It was late at night nearing morning, Xiao Zhan stepped out the tight jeans he was wearing, took a deep breath as he walked past the TV in the hotel room and moved to the big bed that dominated the room. His face had been recently scrubbed off of make up and was looking red in places, hair mussed from the movement.
The place he was staying in Wuxi was a lot more lavish that he was used to, three years of living in cramped spaces and sharing rooms, he had finally come to the stage of having his own space, but the bigger the space the more empty it seemed.
He sat on the bed and looked back at the TV, the five hosts were laughing about something while talking, but Xiao Zhan's eyes were drawn to the last person standing, mike in his hand, but not really saying anything. So quiet, the last man, but Zhan knew if the man put his mind to something he could practically do anything. He laughed at the joke made by the hosts and sighed.
He toed off his shoes and settled on to the bed, his throat was aching, so much practice after too long a time, four years since he had used his voice as much as he had, the thrill he had of hitting the right notes, of hearing the crowds cheer hadn't abated at all.
He rubbed a hand over his face and looked up at the sudden loud noise from the TV, Ah, the last man was dancing, Xiao Zhan stopped fidgeting for a moment and just watched, all his focus on the man on stage, he was so mesmerizing, moving his body in ways Zhan couldn't even comprehend. The dance was reaching its peak, he was spellbound, hands that had been trying to take off his hoodie stopped mid way, the music stopped, the man was panting onstage. The lead host called out, " Give a loud applause for our own Yibo!!.". Zhan pulled his hand out of the sleeve and found himself clapping as well.
Kilometers away, cities apart, the distance between them was so far. Zhan put his hand down with another long Sigh. Its not like the man on the TV could hear him, he missed him, his incessant comments and pokes, his constant "Zhan Ge", his presence which at times seemed to hold him up in ways Zhan couldn't explain. He missed the steady support, having been used to eight other people to count on to moving to doing things by himself, Yibo had been a balm, constantly around him, chattering about something or the other. It had felt like he wasn't ever alone, it's been a year now and Zhan still hasn't got used to it. He wondered if he would ever get used to the lack of presence behind his shoulders.
Zhan crawled into bed, contemplating taking off his shorts, but decided against it, the weather was getting colder by the day, winter soon approaching, he looked out of the long windows on the right side of his room, three in the morning was an odd time to be getting off work. He felt completely alone, the sound from the TV sounding a long way off as he stared outside, most people would be deep asleep now. He picked up his phone and stared at it for a moment, his blank phone shined back at him, no notifications, not from anyone important anyway. He sighed again.
He pushed his feet into the comforter, the sheets still feeling foreign even though he had been staying here for almost a month now. Missing the tear in his blankets at home, the soft wear in them. He put his head on the pillow and stared outside again, the sky was lightening, how far is it to Hangzhou? Couple of kilometers, he could make the journey in a day if he wanted, he thought. He pushed his head back on the pillow trying to get comfortable as he thought of impossible ideas. It wasn't really an option he knew, too many people watching and too many cameras flashing, nothing was as it was before when he could go to a restaurant with his friend and not think twice of who was following.
He had been feeling blue for a few days now, lack of sleep, the strict diet, dark clouds all catching around him and suffocating. He usually was able to shake it off, optimistic by nature. But, this time the silence wasn't disappearing no matter how loud he sang. He felt stuffed full and empty in turn, another loud shout from the TV had him looking back at the show that was winding down, the dancer was smiling at something the others has said, his face held in a sarcastic look. Zhan wondered what had ticked Yibo off as he watched, his face sliding into a wan smile. He took a deep breath and looked his fill. He might not get to see him everyday, but even kilometers away Yibo still could put a smile on his face. The show finished off.Zhan switched off the TV.
He was staring out again, gaze on the building across from him, almost an hour since he had come back from the filming site.He wondered if he would be able to catch at least a few hours of sleep, the last few days of not being able to drowning him even further. He felt the darkness close in again. His phone chimes, a notification, Zhan took it out surprised he didn't expect anyone to be awake at this hour.
It was a message on wechat, a meme with the persons photo and the words,' Do I look handsome?' on it.
Zhan grinned as he typed out, 'Always lao Wang'.
He laughed. The darkness had lightened. A new day was approaching, Zhan didn't feel as alone anymore, his eyes feeling heavy, he fell asleep holding on to the phone, the pic with the text softly lighting his face.
A text lighted up the screen again a few minutes later.
Bo Di:'I'm coming to Wuxi tomorrow '.
Zhan deep into his exhausted sleep didn't move.