Word Count: 1800+
Summary: What happens when Lay sits next to a random stranger on the airplane ride back to Korea and doesn't know what to say to someone who can't speak.
To say that Zhang Yixing was excited to sit on a plane next to a random stranger for an hour and a half would be a bit of a stretch. To say that he was thrilled about being stuck in the air next to possibly an over-curious fan would just be an outright lie.
Yixing doesn’t hate people; he just doesn’t particularly enjoy the sound of high-pitched squeals surrounding him longer than necessary. Though it was flattering, it could get annoying. Being famous had its perks, but also had its share of negative repercussions. So when he boards the plane at Gate 23 at the Beijing Capital International Airport, he can’t help but feel his heart drop a little when he sees a petite female sitting in the window seat next to his staring out the window. She’s got her chin in her hand and a pastel blue notebook sitting on her lap. Yixing adjusts the scarf around his neck and swings his backpack onto the ground near where his feet are supposed to be. He sits down next to the girl who turns her head from the window to see who her seat mate will be. Her eyes are hazel and her thin fine hair is almost as black as Tao’s hair. She looks him for about three seconds and goes back to staring out the window, her hands fidgeting with the hem of her gray sweater. The pilot’s raspy voice is heard from a speaker somewhere announcing the safety procedures and that take-off will commence soon. The girl puts on her seatbelt and Yixing follows suit, adjusting the straps to fit comfortably over his lap.
Fifteen minutes into the flight, the flight attendants begin handing out drinks. An attendant dressed in her teal uniform asks Yixing what he wants first. He opts for a cup of lemon water and she politely hands him a small plastic cup with his beverage. She gazes fondly at him for a few seconds before clearing her throat and asking his seatmate what she wants to drink. Yixing hardly expects the girl to pull out a black ball point pen and the blue notebook, scrawling her order onto the corner of a page before ripping it and giving it to the attendant. The flight attendant doesn’t expect it either but she goes along with it anyway. She pours a small cup of hot coffee from a jug and leans to hand it over to the girl.
In an unfortunate series of events, turbulence causes the plane to jerk, the flight attendant’s grasp on the small plastic cup is loose, and it’s eventually non-existent as the cup and its contents land all over Yixing’s right thigh and right forearm. Yixing gasps from the heat of the coffee permeating through his jeans and the skin on his arm is red. In a moment of panic, the flight attendant gets up and begins spewing apologies and bowing repeatedly. The girl next to him pulls the blanket off her lap and dabs the coffee off his jeans- obviously trying not to dab in all the wrong places- and tries to soak up as much of the coffee as possible. She takes another corner of her blanket and gently wipes Yixing’s arm and inspecting it. After that, he assures the flight attendant that he’s ok after she hands him a few paper napkins and she moves on to the people seated in front of him looking completely dejected. His seatmate places the blanket on the floor on top of the spilled coffee and begins to rummage through her purse.
Yixing doesn’t understand why the girl has a roll of bandage in her purse but doesn’t question it. In fact, he’s quite thankful she has it as she wraps it around the red area on his arm.
“Thanks,” he says quietly. She only smiles at him before sealing the end of the bandage with medical tape. She pulls out her notebook and pen and writes quickly onto a page.
Sorry. It’s my fault. Shouldn’t have ordered hot coffee.
He looks at her wondering why she doesn’t just speak. “It’s ok. It doesn’t hurt that much.” He tries to prove his point by poking at the bandage but ends up wincing in pain. She smiles a little and she looks as if she is giggling, but no sound leaves her lips. She writes something down and Yixing looks at it.
Cry if you need to. But really, I’m sorry.
He smiles at her comment. “Men don’t cry,” he says half-jokingly. She smiles and scribbles in her notebook.
Zhang Yixing, right?
“How do you know?” he asks, forgetting for a moment that he’s in one of Asia’s most popular boy bands.
Well everyone knows who you are.
Simple enough, Yixing thinks. “What’s your name?”
Mei, she writes. “Mei?” The name, Yixing thinks, has a nice sound to it. Mei nods.
Nice to meet you.
“You too.” Mei looked up over the seat and gestured to the flight attendant with her chin before writing. The flight attendant was looking at Yixing, a worried look on her face. Yixing noticed she was left-handed as she completed another character.
She keeps looking at you. I have a feeling she’s going to come back.
Yixing looks at her handwriting and chuckles to himself. “You think so? Well she better give me a free drink.” Yixing gestures to his now-sticky and stained jeans. Mei opens her mouth to laugh, but again, no sound comes out. Yixing curiously stares at her giggle and smiled to himself.
Why are you headed for Korea? Yixing shrugs. His manager hadn’t told them much in the rush to pack. “You?”
Yixing was silent. She scribbled again.
What’s with that look?
Yixing shifted in his seat a little. He didn’t know what to say. He pointed at his throat.
You can say it.
Yixing blinked. It was clear he was having trouble finding the right words. “What happened to your voice?” She gave him a satisfied look and began writing.
I was born with a mutated thyroid. I went into surgery when I was eight. Something went wrong and my larynx became paralyzed.
Yixing doesn’t know how to respond. He couldn’t say that he could relate to her situation in any way. The only syllable that leaves his lips is “Oh.” Yixing mentally slaps himself. Really? That’s it? That’s all you can say? “I-I mean, I’m sorry.”
Yixing looks up from the notebook to look at her. She writes something again.
Yixing, can I ask something of you?
Can you promise me that you won’t treat me any different than you did five minutes ago? I don’t like being treated different because I’m different. You of all people should know that.
And Yixing did know that. Being constantly chased by fangirls and always crowded and shoved at airports had made him appreciate being normal every now and then, though it wasn’t very frequent that that happened. He thought about how his friends from high school even treated him differently, and how after he left China, they stopped talking to him all together. How his agency cut off a lot of his contact from his family.
“Ok.” She smiled at him.
The rest of the plane ride, Yixing talks about his life before EXO and his dog that he hasn’t seen in forever. He talks about his love for dance and how it’s like to be on stage. They talk (and she writes) about her plan to study in Korea. Mei tells him the story about how her mom tells her to always keep a first aid kit with her and because she’s highly superstitious. She learns that he likes to read self-improvement books and he learns that she likes to cook. Mei’s notebook fill up, the pages completely varnished by black ink. Yixing doesn’t remember the last time he’s talked to anybody like this, other than his band mates, that is.
Time flies by and soon, a sudden rising feeling in his stomach and a loud shake of the plane cabin notifies him of the landing. After the seatbelt button flickers out, everyone on the plane stands up. Yixing helps Mei get her bag from the overhead compartment. She thanks him and Yixing turns his head to find the other members. Kris is across the aisle and back but catches Yixing’s eyes. He makes a gesture saying to meet at the gate and Yixing nods. He picks up his bag and moves out of the seat to let Mei out. She shuffles and moves into the aisle in front of him and nods a thank you. They shuffle off the plane and walk side by side through the bridge slowly, their shoulders brushing. Yixing wants to say something but finds himself tongue-tied. At the end of the bridge, Yixing can see his manager waiting for them at the gate. Yixing turns to Mei.
“It was nice meeting you. Good luck with therapy.” Mei points to Yixing’s forearm. “I’ll be fine,” he assures. Yixing holds out his hand to shake. Mei nods as she reaches out to shake his hand. Yixing doesn’t want to let go but has no choice but to respond to LuHan beckoning him over to the group. Mei waves and turns to leave. Yixing watches her get farther and farther away. He watches her, something tugging in his chest.
“Mei, wait!” he calls out, surprising himself. Mei stops and turns, her expression changing from confused to surprised as Yixing approaches her. If that wasn’t surprising enough for her, Mei is shocked frozen when Yixing wraps his arms around her shoulders. She feels his breath on her neck and hesitates for a moment before shyly putting her arms around his torso. He doesn’t say anything because he’s unsure of why he is doing this just as much as she was. He lets go, his face tinted pink. Mei scrambles for her backpack and digs through it, finally extracting her pastel blue notebook. She looks at it fondly before handing it to Yixing and closing his fingers over the spiraled spine.
Keep it, she mouths.
“Promise you’ll come see me perform.” She smiles and holds out her pinky. He wraps his own pinky around hers. Mei waves at him for the final time and Yixing watches as she walks away until he can’t see her anymore.
In one of the company vans, Yixing flips through Mei’s notebook, chuckling to himself at some of Mei’s jokes. He is about to close it and put it away when something catches his eye. On the last page, a message is written for him in blue ink.
Yixing, thank you for talking to me today. You will do great in the future, I already know. I’ll be your number 1 fan. Good luck! One day, I’ll be the one screaming the loudest for you.
“Gege? What are you smiling at?” Tao says, trying to peek over Yixing’s shoulder from the back seat. Yixing smiles and just pinches the maknae’s cheek.
To say that Zhang Yixing was excited to sit on a plane next to a random stranger for an hour and a half would be a bit of a stretch. But this time, Yixing was willing to make an exception.
WOO HOO. I finally finished another oneshot. Not quite satisfied with the ending...but yeah. ^^ I have some other ones on a different account. I'll be posting this to my livejournal as well.