Title: Chasing Fire
Pairing/Members: Luhan-centric. (bits of Luhan/Chanyeol; Baekhyun/Chanyeol; Luhan/Kris; Luhan/Kai; Luhan/Lay)
Word Count: 5780
Genre: Slice of Life/AU/Pseudo-Bildungsroman.
Prompt: picture, word, written for the first challenge at aideshou
(voting starts on the 27th! I'd really appreciate it, if you enjoy my story, if you'd vote for it!! ^^ ♥)
beijing, china. early march
“I’ll come back some time next year…”
“You most certainly will not, young man.” His father clacked his chopsticks in frustration. “You’re not talking sense. You’re going to college. What kind of an example do you think you’re setting you brother? Listening to some mad dream you had? Traveling the world my ass. Now isn’t the time.”
“Sehun will be fine… he’s independent enough, probably won’t even notice.” Luhan picked at his dinner. Baozi – that was to be his final meal. Leftover baozi and a small pile of steamed vegetables on rice. “I don’t care what you say. It told me to go after it...so I’m leaving. A-and…” His voice faltered, his true fears seeping through. “I’m leaving tomorrow morning.”
His parents’ efforts to stop the boy worked for a few hours, his farewell postponed to lunchtime. They couldn’t avoid work forever, as every minute away was more RMB slipping through their fingers. A boy of their status had no business abandoning all he’d known to chase after some fairy tales. The night before had been sleepless for every member of the household.
“You’d better be here still when I get home… or you’ll wish you hadn’t been born with any legs, you hear me?”
That’s an empty threat, Father. I’m already out the door.
And it’s not a fairy tale.
Just give me this year… After that I’ll do whatever you want. But first I’m going to find it… I’m going to find th-
“HEY, GET OUT OF THE WAY!”
Luhan jumped back just in time, a panicked biker just missing his toes.
This was going to be a long trip.
seoul, south korea. mid april
To put it mildly, a handful of savings aided by a sweet face carried the boy surprisingly far. Just not always to the most ideal places.
“LUUUUUUUUUU~han~ Wassup sleepyhead?”
Why was his pillow so thin? Why was his voice so loud? Luhan tried to cover his ears and still look like he was asleep – like it was some sort of natural reflex, but there was no stopping Chanyeol. The boy was his current roommate at the hostel Luhan had ended up in, deep in the heart of Seoul, Korea.
“I see you there, you’re not very sneaky LuuLu~” Some weight pressed on the bed near his feet, and Luhan instinctively kicked it. “You’re a-ahhh!”
Chanyeol leapt up, clutching his shin and wibbling “Baekhyun never kicked me…”
“Stay off my bed… and don’t yell in the morning.” He grumbled and rolled over, exposing only half his nose on up to his deep voiced unwanted companion. “I need my beauty sleep.” Why didn’t this guy get that?
After staring at him quizzically, the other settled himself cross-legged on the floor near the head of Luhan’s bed. “I wasn’t yelling for no reason.” His pout was too damn cheerful to be taken with any pity. “Just thought I could help… and you were mumbling last night.”
Huh? “I was..?” Slowly, Luhan sat up, hugging the scratchy blanket around his person.
“W-where...where's the fire…?” What looked like some kind of imitation started before his eyes. “It’s not here… I can't... I can't find you...”
“Shove off.” Luhan flared his nose in distaste. That deep voice pretending to be him was as terrible as anything he’d ever heard. “I didn’t do that… and I don’t sound like that. Stop making things up.”
“You did!” Chanyeol fought back, lying back spread eagle on the floor.
Oh God he’d finally stumped him.
“Look, obviously you’ve been imagining things. Get out now. Since I’m up I might as well get ready.” He glared, slowly unwrapping himself from the blanket cocoon. Luhan tugged his backpack out from under the bed, sifting through it for his other shirt. He busied himself with changing while Chanyeol stayed put. No matter what exasperated sound Luhan made, the Korean boy didn’t seem keen on bouncing up and out.
It wasn’t until Luhan hoisted his backpack and attempted to step over him that his companion moved, grabbing onto his leg koala style. “Wait! I can help you, what, err..who are you looking for?”
Chanyeol somehow managed a scowl. “Yes you are. Stop lying to me… what’s telling me the truth going to hurt?”
He found himself faltering, looking down into the honest eyes of someone who was supposed to be taller than him. “Err…” Luhan’s cheeks puffed out in internal debate.
“I’m not going to blab… Promise!” A pinky extended toward him and Luhan found himself helplessly linking with it. “There, now tell me!”
All grins once more. This kid…
A week later they stood at the port. Well, Luhan stood. Chanyeol was impossible to keep still, staring at everything all at once and talking a mile a minute. And as much as it killed him inside to admit it, Luhan was going to miss his company.
“Somewhere Baekhyun’s out on one of these!” He announced for the fiftieth time as they eyed the ships docked in the area. Luhan had finally wormed the information out of Chanyeol that Baekhyun was his former roommate at the hostel. The boy had left a few weeks before Luhan arrived, continuing some trip of his and leaving a very attached friend behind. It almost made him sad… and think about his little brother. The only one who could have kept him home was that boy, but Sehun hadn’t said a word that night at dinner what seemed like so long ago.
And the pit of Luhan’s stomach tightened as he made his offer for the last time. “You…you’re sure you don’t want to tag along?”
“Nope. You’re silly LuLu~ I have to stay here!” Chanyeol bounced and tried to poke his nose but Luhan stepped back with a sharp denying glare. “No fun… when you’re back here sometime look me up! Okay? You’d better or I’ll…”
“Don’t go making threats…if I’m back I will.” Luhan shook his head and then turned toward his boat. The last few days were spent working every odd job Chanyeol could find for them, earning just barely enough to get from Seoul to Sapporo.
There was a strange silence of impatient companionship. Somewhere inside Luhan kicked himself for leaving a kind friend, but what he was seeking wasn't here. Nothing could be done about that.
“I’ll call the hostel when I get there...and get some money. Let you know I didn’t die at sea or something.” He laughed and Chanyeol grinned.
“I’ll be waiting!” He felt himself tugged into a brief hug, ending with a nudge-like pat towards the boat. “Don’t be late! Good luck!”
Chanyeol’s figure retreated.., or more like raced off really – to his own destiny.
sapporo, japan. mid may
Sapporo lasted three weeks. Luhan stayed with relatives of one of the ship's crew, doing chores in exchange for his patch of the floor where his futon rested. When he had free time he wandered the city, always keeping an eye out for it. But this Japanese island wasn't home to his goal. He could've said that the moment his feet touched the ground.
"How expensive are airplane tickets?" He rolled onto his side, away from the boys he shared this room with.
Soft breathing alone met his ears and he wondered if they'd miraculously fallen asleep already. Maybe Kyungsoo... he'd seemed exhausted after cram school that night. Even a few weeks here and Luhan had barely seen him outside of meals.
"Ahh... depends on where you want to go"
A polite voice rose from the dark. Joonmyeon was still awake.
"...What about North America?"
There was another long silence and Luhan was this close to kicking him.
"And you say people call you a leader at your job..." Luhan grumbled. Way to state the obvious. I know it's expensive to fly... I just have to get out of here somehow...
No one said anything else that night, and the following days proceeded as they would. Luhan found work with a shipping company, saving every yen he could scrape together until he could fly to Tokyo, and from Tokyo Narita International Airport, Luhan found himself Canada bound.
vancouver, canada. late july
As with most places thus far, arriving somewhere new had its challenges. Surviving with Chinese and Korean were well enough, and his companions in Japan had taught him enough to get around the city. But English was a different story.
“Yes. Hello…” His vocabulary consistently fell short.
Stupid idea really, coming to this country. What had he been thinking? Even if the answers he wanted were here, this was a ridiculous risk.
Several days went on hungry and shelter-less. He must have been the strangest sight – a soft faced Chinese boy wandering aimlessly, staring at everyone who was in his path, toting a backpack and a handful of coins he’d found in parking lots.
“Bus…how much ride?” He managed, standing between the folding bus doors and holding his coin handful out pitifully to the driver. Help… I’m such an idiot help me I hate this… If he were the type to cry he would have but no, Luhan was stronger than that. Desperate emotions held no place on his face, the driver finally picked the coins out of his hand and slipped them into the slot himself. “I ride now?”
“Get on, we have to go. I’m on a schedule. Tch…foreigners…” The driver rolled his eyes, but let the boy pass. Without warning the bus took off, and Luhan fell right into a man’s back. “S-sorry.” He winced, stepping back away from the man. Except then the driver started yelling at him again. This didn’t stop until his feet moved back over the yellow line on the floor.
And just when it seemed more hopeless than ever, someone’s hand wrapped around his wrist and yanked him into the midst of the crowd…
A command he obeyed without question – only in an afterthought realizing it came to him in perfect Chinese.
Luhan looked up and into the presently expressionless face of one heavily eyebrowed Chinese boy who couldn’t possibly be far from his own age. “..Thank you.” He mustered up his words only to be met by a severe gaze.
“You’re not from around here.” A statement – was it that obvious?
He looked down at himself, wondering vaguely if his clothes smelled. He was good, buying deodorant wherever he went, trying his best to not look so much like a lonely boy wandering the world. Maybe it worked as he’d made his way through China, and Korea – and a bit less but Japan was manageable too. Canada was a whole different story and helpless to the observation, Luhan nodded.
A question this time. Luhan shook his head. “No…not really. I’m here looking for something.”
The standing boy quirked an eyebrow and Luhan looked away. He was well aware of how it sounded. The bus came to a stop, the doors creaking open as riders shuffled on and off. As a space freed beside Luhan the other sat beside him.
“Well, stranger who is looking for something, I’m Kris.” He held out his hand and Luhan looked down at it and back at the guy’s face.
“Luhan.” He took the other’s hand briefly then pulled away, bowing his head a bit as a more comfortable greeting.
“What stop are you getting off at?” Kris asked, looking out the window as the bus moved once more. But when Luhan merely shrugged he looked back at him. “Do you even know what bus this is?”
Way to all around make me feel stupid. Luhan sighed and shook his head. “It’s the first one I saw. I’ve been walking around for a few days.” At a stoplight the bus jerked to a halt, shifting Luhan’s legs against Kris’s; he rushed back into his proper position, holding onto the nearest pole.
Kris simply looked up at the bus map on the ceiling, pointing it out. “Is there anywhere on that you want to go? I can tell you which stop you’d need.”
He followed his gaze toward the ceiling but the jumble of English wouldn’t process for him. Luhan squinted at it, desperate to find some familiar word.
That works, right?
“The main stop there is where you got on.” Kris shook his head, and Luhan looked back at him startled to see a smile on that severe face.
Hours later, Luhan found himself seated at the dinner table of a Chinese-Canadian family’s home. Days later, he sat at the front of a classroom with about thirty other Chinese people, learning English word by word at the steady hand of a friend of that family. Weeks passed – and for a month this was his life.
“You’re going to love this! Come on Luhan!”
“Why?” he sighed, trying to keep up with his friend’s pace. This was their game, much to Luhan’s dismay. Kris insisted that to practice his English, he should only reply in it while Kris could go off in whatever language he desired.
Presently the pair was hiking, and it seemed as though saying things like “I’m tired” or “Rest please? Stop please?” only deserved “Great job, you’re getting useful English down!” announcements from Kris. And taking a swing at him when he said that just made the younger boy laugh. It was like being around his brother again, almost. Sehun was a bit harder to warm up to, sweeter, but more serious. But getting along with Kris developed as smoothly as anything once he realized the other wasn’t actually judging him every two seconds.
Catching up to the other (who was kind enough to stop for him every fifty or so steps), he tiredly nudged his shoulder. “Go more? Rest first…don’t want more walk.”
Kris chuckled. “Close enough. It’s just over this ridge… You still have the disposable camera I got for you?”
He nodded and pulled it out of his pocket, “How could I lose? It’s new.” Luhan had already seen so many places in his travels it seemed strange to only now start taking pictures of it, but Kris had insisted. This was a view he ‘wasn’t allowed to forget’.
Trudging on, finally ahead of him Kris stopped, waving him over. “This is my favorite place… down there is Rolley Lake, and over there is Elk Mountain.”
Kris settled onto a rock and stared out into the distance, off eastwards.
Something went off in Luhan as he lowered himself at Kris’s side, looking out over the scenery. “You miss China… very much?” He tore the foil packing off of the camera and wound it up.
“Yeah…” There was a forlorn smile on his friend’s face, and Luhan hoped he didn’t mind when he snapped a photo of it. “I miss it a whole lot.”
Luhan held out the camera, taking a picture of the pair of them smiling, and you’d never know the conversation was so downhearted in that moment if you hadn’t been there. The rest of the camera was filled with scenery and selcas in the next twenty minutes. Then they stood once more and headed back to the car, returning to the city and Kris’s home.
“I…should go soon.” He said softly after dinner that night.
What he'd hoped to find hadn't appeared here, and It just seemed like the right time.
“Mail this for me, alright?” Luhan handed the envelope to Kris, addressed to room 217 of a hostel in Korea. His family was so kind, paying for Luhan’s flight. They hugged in the airport and Kris’s mother fussed over him.
“If you’re ever in a tight spot, just call us. You can come back here anytime. Don’t be a stranger.” The woman pinched his cheeks and started fixing his hair. “Are you sure you want to leave?”
He nodded. “I’ve got to… and I found a temporary job there too. For until I can move on…”
“I don’t know what your parents are thinking, letting a young man like you go on his own like this.” Kris’s mother sighed. But there was nothing she could do and Luhan was adamant, setting his backpack down onto a seat and giving the woman a hug too.
When he was let go, it was as if the other sounds in the airport had faded away. All the busy people going to and fro didn’t matter and Luhan lifted his backpack once more onto his shoulders – another adventure with a bittersweet ending.
“See ya.” Kris gave him a smile. They bumped fists, and Luhan turned to join the line going through security.
mexico city, mexico. september
Mexico City. He expected it to be a lively place, but lively meant something worlds different to the Chinese boy than what he saw here. Where his town in China was bustling with workers in suits and the tangy scents of restaurants mixed with the dirty smell of factories, Mexico City was pure vibrancy.
“You’ll stay here, and help clean the school after hours.” His newly found benefactor assured him. Luhan was shown to an upstairs apartment, a bit cramped, but open to view the street below. It turned out the man he’d met in Canada was the principal of this small international school. Most of the students’ parents were businesspeople who found it easier to keep their families based in Mexico no matter where in the world they worked. “You may also attend the English classes, if you’d like.”
Luhan bowed in thanks, and Mr. Gonzalez (who was married to a Chinese woman whom he was told he’d meet later in the day) left him alone.
He sat down on the bed and leaned on the windowsill, peering down at the streets. People in every bright color, modern and more traditional outfits – they were everywhere.
“I wonder if it’s here,” he mused, rubbing his eyes. Maybe it was the wrong time of day for it but, ahh, what was it people here did?
A siesta..? That sounds nice…
Luhan was down and out, nearly anyway, with a mop in his hands and a sore soapy bottom. What had just happened? Huh? Where was he? Oh right…
“Sorry about that!” A boy above him stood groping the air in confusion, looking down at Luhan’s disorderly body. “Oh, Korean?” Sudden hopefulness rose on his face but Luhan dashed it to pieces as he shook his head.
“But I speak it, didn’t you see the sign?” Since this guy didn’t seem like he’d be helping any time soon, Luhan used his own mop to pull himself back up. At the lack of responsiveness on the boy’s face he pointed to the left, where a sign at the other end of the hall said wet floor. Now how hard was that?
His companion didn’t seem to care one way or the other, cocking an eyebrow and stuffing his hands into his pockets, shaking them slightly. “Who are you? Where’s the lady who’s normally here?”
“Maternity leave…I’m just here temporarily.”
There was a glint in his eye, “You shouldn’t stand on wet floor, even if you made it that way.”
Before Luhan could even reply the boy was running off, some mad dash that seemed too graceful to really be a human running. “Err…” How’d he even get in here, the school is closed right now…
He went to the market twice a week with the rest of the household, initially only observing, but Luhan didn’t like feeling so useless. So he was taught to look for quality vegetables and fruits, and within a few weeks he was left on his own. As long as he got the produce back in time and good conditions then everyone was happy.
But the football he just took to the skull wasn’t really helping matters.
“Hey!!” He caught it, and instinctively sent it back with a sharp punt in the same direction as it came.
“Whoa, easy there Korea boy.” Somehow despite the force of the kick, it landed easily in the hands of a familiar sight.
Furious, Luhan started at him. “I’m Chinese, thank you very much.” But the boy spun to the side before Luhan was able to do a thing to him.
“Okay then, no need to get testy. You busy?”
“What’s it to yo..”
“Great! Follow me!”
Luhan had no time to resist, the hand on his arm yanking him through the crowds. His captor wore a hooded jacket so he couldn’t even look at him – only follow in exasperation.
When they finally slowed down Luhan wrenched his arm from his grasp. “Let me go…who are you? You should be reported, being at the school after hours, kicking things at people’s heads… what kind of parents did you have raising such a respectless lit-”
“Kim Jongin.” A pleasant smile graced the boy’s face. “This seller has better corn than the one you were trying to buy from. And cheaper.”
“…Oh.” Luhan blinked, his surprise etched into his face. “Thanks…”
What Luhan had taken for nothing more than an Aladdinesque street rat turned out to be the son of a world renowned dancer and her CEO husband. Jongin lived in a large home one street over from the school, and used it as his runaway shortcut when home got too stuffy for him. He attended an arts school in the mornings and was kept cooped up in that house otherwise, unless he ran out.
And apparently he’d decided that Luhan was his new friend.
“I won’t be here long.” He’d told Jongin.
“I don’t mind.” Jongin replied.
Every day they met, the conversation repeated itself. Luhan was guided around the city by his new friend’s expert eyes, following the flow of what Jongin wanted him to see. They’d kick that football around in the evenings, show off dance moves or other skills, and tell stories. Jongin had traveled a lot when he was younger, going with his Mom on her performance tours and the like. But now she taught at the school he attended and his current father wasn’t even his real one.
“I’m jealous!” A sigh and thud happened behind him, and Luhan turned to see Jongin lying in the middle of their football field. “I want to travel on my own too.”
Luhan sat down beside him and spun the ball on his fingers. “I’m lucky I haven’t starved to death. It’s not that great.”
“Can I come with you? When you leave?” Luhan looked over at him in surprise, watching as Jongin bit his lip and forced a smile.
His face fell.
“It’s risk enough for me to travel. I can’t put another person in danger…”
“I get it.”
Jongin sat up and turned away from him. “No, I get it.”
He stood up, holding his hands out for the ball. Luhan lightly tossed it to him. “When are you leaving?”
Luhan looked around, thinking and wondering at his watering eyes. He’d already been on this journey for eight months. It didn’t seem like that long, but every once and a while it hit him just how long he had been away. “Soon…a week maybe. I’ve got enough money now.”
“…I see.” Silence fell around them, and the lights at the corners of the field flickered on. The sun set in a blaze behind him, so all Luhan could see was the other's dark silhouette. It really was evening now – he should head inside anyway. “A-Adios…”
Suddenly Jongin took off running, the ball falling from his grasp near the edge of the field. He kept going, no longer looking like the graceful gazelle Luhan grew used to – but disoriented, broken, like surely he was crying.
london, england. mid-november
His plane touched down in Heathrow Airport early the next Sunday morning, and Luhan took the tube to the heart of London. The parents of one of the school students back in Mexico helped fund this trip, after hearing about his travels thusfar. As was his promise, if he could be set up with somewhere to stay, he would take care of his own other needs. He’d find work and food and everything would turn out well.
“You have reached Tottenham Court Road Station, please stay back as the double doors open, and mind the gap.” The intercom on the subway train announced and Luhan stood up finally, stepping off of the train with a crowd of other riders.
Where was it… where… aha!
Near the entrance to a staircase, there stood two boys. One held a sign with Luhan written on it in Chinese. He hurried over to them.
“Hey, Zitao and Jongdae, right?” he asked and in a fluid motion high-fived the one not holding the sign in greeting.
Together the trio hiked out of the tube station, and toward their lodging. They were living just west of China Town in a hostel. Since they’d be cramming a third into the room there was a discounted stay price, which was how this came about. Luhan met the pair via the internet while in Mexico planning this move. Jongdae was here for a special honors music program with some elite university, and Zitao was similar to Luhan – traveling the world on his own.
If there was ever a comfortable more normal-feeling portion of his trip, this was the one. Luhan found work as a dishwasher in a restaurant in China Town, where they both paid him and fed him. The pay was small, but the food (baozi and noodle soups and fried rice and everything in between) was delicious. With nothing else to occupy him he worked both the lunch and dinner shifts, while he was free to spend the mornings and evenings wandering about London.
Since Jongdae was busy with school, he spent his free time largely with Zitao. They recounted adventures and gave tips should one ever travel where the other had been. He’d traveled the opposite direction from Luhan, first to Taiwan then Australia, a brief stint in India, the United Arab Emirates, and then all across Europe (with a special long stop in Italy where he got a new bag, as he was fond of pointing out).
He wanted to visit America most of all, but Luhan couldn’t help with that. “I’ve only been above and below it.” He said while slumped on a bench wrapped up in Jongdae’s extra coat. The switch from nearly equatorial climates to such a high latitude was the only thing he hadn’t taken to well, especially as winter fast approached.
“How expensive do you think going to Disney World is?” Zitao asked with a hopeful voice.
“Probably as much as the plane ticket would be to get there...”
A disheartened silence followed.
“Wait,” his companion mumbled. “I’ve got an idea… just maybe…”
paris, france. christmas day
Boom! Crackle~fizzz! Over and over, the sound of fireworks overhead as Luhan, Jongdae, and Zitao stood amongst the crowds. It was freezing, and all three clung desperately to their cups of hot chocolate with their eyes on the sky.
What the others thought about, Luhan couldn’t be sure. His Mickey Mouse ears kept slipping over his eyes while a small bag with some cheap souvenirs dangled from his arm. Trinkets which in the next week he’d be sending all across the world – his own home in Beijing, a small hostel in Seoul, a packed little house in Sapporo, a distinguished home in Vancouver, and the mansion behind the school in Mexico City.
Stars burst apart overhead – burning sparkles of red, green, and white felt just out of his reach. Fire was always just out of his reach.
A magical merry Christmas in Disneyland Paris.
seoul, south korea. late january
By the end of January, Luhan knew he was out of time. It was the same as when he arrived only backwards. “Please be careful when boarding the train. Mind the gap.” He found himself a seat, his backpack substantially lighter than usual as his new rolling suitcase stood up beside him. He sped onwards toward the airport, and the next afternoon found himself back in Seoul.
Well, more like on the airport floor, having been tackled by an ecstatic Chanyeol who’d come to pick him up.
“You’re squashing me…” He winched and pushed the other off. They walked together to the bus stop and rode back to the hostel. Chanyeol was an eternal chatterbox, featuring every topic from a reaccounting of the weather for the past seven straight months to his thanks for all the things Luhan had mailed him.
Luhan didn’t think it was possible to get this many hugs.
“You can’t stay in my room though, since I have a new roommate right now. He’s Chinese too!” The babble went on and on and Luhan, admittedly, only half listened. He had a week here before returning to Beijing, and then he’d have to find a job at home until he could start college. His mind spun with how everything would work out.
“So,” he finally asked as they walked into the building, “He come back?”
“Oh…yeah!” Chanyeol nodded, with something of a shier smile than normal. “He spent December here, but left again. He’s studying in Australia right now!”
“Ahh…” Luhan glanced over at him. They walked down the rest of the hall in an unsettling silence where Luhan wanted to ask if something was wrong – but couldn’t bring the words to his lips.
He was let into the room next to Chanyeol’s and set his things down on the free bed.
Already the weight of something ending – with bare results no less – pressed on his shoulders.
The week passed swiftly too, as he and Chanyeol visited their various old haunts around Seoul, keeping the banter going like there was nothing else to cling to. Until the last night, as they walked around a park with coffee cups in their hands and scarves around their necks.
“I’m sorry you didn’t find it…did that make it a waste of a trip?” Chanyeol asked.
Luhan shook his head. “I was just chasing a dream. It’s not a big deal.” He paused for a minute and they walked in silence, sipping their coffee and watching some middle schoolers run around the park. “And it wasn’t a waste…not at all.”
“What was the dream again? I tried to remember but it’s been a while…”
He hesitated, but this was Chanyeol. He could re-tell him... “I was chasing someone… a person who ran away from me…” Luhan bit his lip. “Not really ran, more like glided…like they was on a bicycle or something. They rode away but somehow I could still hear them saying ‘Look for me by the fire.’ And then I woke up...always right after that.”
“Right.” Chanyeol interjected. “And you came here because you saw that fire in the news…”
Luhan nodded. “It’s the first fire I heard about after the dream so I thought it had to be it… but when I got to the place the fire was gone. Then…”
“Japan, since they’ve got volcanoes...”
“Yeah, but they didn’t feel right, so I to see the ones across the ocean…in Vancouver.”
“Mmm, I’ve got the picture you sent me in my room.”
“After that… I guess I got off course. People were willing to help me get to Mexico and England so I accepted.”
It was bittersweet to think about, and they walked back up the steps of the hostel and to their rooms. Luhan settled onto his bed and the boy he shared with right now was nowhere to be seen. No matter, he was barely there anyway. And Luhan would be out the next morning, on the first flight to Beijing.
beijing, china. mid march
Home hadn’t changed, but Luhan had. He caught a bus from the airport around lunchtime back to his part of town, and then started walking toward his house. Familiar sights and smells and crowds surrounded him, and for the first time there he felt out of place.
A sign caught his eye, taped inside the window of a travel agency. There was a photo of a burning sunset over African wilderness. He’d never made it to Africa… how much would that cost?
With slight hesitance, he stepped forward to read the details, only to bump his knee into a precariously parked bike chained to a post at the doorway. As it started to fall, two sets of hands rushed to catch it. Luhan blinked at the other pair, then up the arms and to the face.
It was his neighbor since childhood and former classmate – who presently stared at him like he was seeing a ghost.
“You’re back!” Sudden elation was followed by a bright full-dimpled grin. “Sehun told me you’d gone off on some adventure. I didn’t realize that’s where you’d been headed that day.”
Luhan blinked again. “Huh?”
Blank stares passed between the two, and, clearly uncomfortable, Yixing scratched behind his right ear. “I guess you wouldn't recall. It’s been ages and I was going really fast.” He laughed. “I nearly ran you over the day you left. With this…” He patted his bike and smiled sheepishly.
It took him a few moments but the memories of the day he left flooded back, and Luhan did remember…just vaguely… a shout and him jumping out of the way...
“I was going to be late for a job interview! Here actually…I’m an assistant to the travel agents.”
“You are? Wow…good job Yixing.” He smiled in surprise.
There was an awkwardness Luhan was half-tempted to break by excusing himself, but suddenly Yixing was digging in his pockets. He pulled out a folded up flyer and pushed it into Luhan’s hands. “There’s a thing tonight, for people who graduated last year who are still around. If you’re up for it you should come! I’d like to hear about where all you’ve been… Since I work here but don’t get to travel and all…”
Luhan unfolded the paper and looked over the details. There was a picture of a campfire at the top and time and place information for the park near their old High School.
“If you can come, look for me by the fire. Somehow I ended up in charge of it.” Yixing laughed again and turned toward the building entrance. “I’ve got to get back to work now. See you later, Luhan!”
He looked up from the flyer, his mouth hanging open at those words, but Yixing was already gone.
His heart raced, just a bit. “I’ll be there…by the fire.” Luhan mumbled softly, as he pocketed the flyer and set off, finally, for home – where his dreams had carried him all along.
a/n1: "dialogue in italics" is in english. otherwise it's in chinese or korean.
a/n2: umm..suspend your beliefs a bit about how he can manage to do all of this traveling lol.
a/n3: this is my first exo fanfic ever and my first fic at all in like two years. i'm super excited about it! i hope you enjoy it, my interpretations of the boys, and just everything ahaha thank you for reading! ♥