Characters: Yixing, Sehun
Genre: non-AU, hurt and comfort
Disclaimer: I claim no rights other than on this story.
Volume: 3.300 words
Warnings: topic of member loss, mention of racism, probably out of character at points, Sehun swears roughly two times
Summary: As only Chinese member left, Yixing struggles to not feel non-essential despite everyone's reassurance they want him with the group. When someone manages to break through the wall of fog clouding his mind, it is not a person he expected to.
A/N: This was violently prompted by Yixing's public and sadly seeming necessary plead to not hate him, the bit of information that Sehun studies Chinese the hardest and me being extremely blue on my travel back from visiting a friend abroad.
Cross-posted to AFF.
As always with non-AU, take everything with a grain of salt. I do not claim to actually know what goes on in the members' minds.
If his relationship with Korea was a Facebook status, it would be “it’s complicated”, Yixing concludes. The problem lies with the inherent issue that he loves Korea very much and Korea happens to be a little indifferent towards his affection for it – or so he tells himself, because on other days he simply does not understand what the issue exactly.
Yixing often wonders what it is about him precisely that causes the violent polarized reaction of citizens and netizens alike when it comes to him. Is it because he slips up with Korean on TV shows? Are they perhaps still offended about his accidental use of a swear word on public television? To be fair he simply did not know that vocabulary would be problematic, but netizens are probably not far off either when they comment he needs to extend his vocabulary in general and work on his Korean more so he does not cause such a commotion again.
As a stranger in this country he has to pay twice the amount of attention to present his home country in a positive light and Yixing feels like he could do a much better job at it than he does. He is not dumb; he knows of the reputation China has in Korea. He knows of historical grown rivalry and despisement and knows his nationality stands for war and oppression in the eyes of many Koreans, especially older ones so he tries to never lose patience and manners. In his opinion appearing harmless is the best tactic to not trigger too many negative responses to his person and the company played into that well by giving him the far most peaceful superpower concept he could himself think of.
There is just a tiny, huge problem with that tactic.
Always standing beside, being not too present in the group and holding back from putting himself too much into the spotlight is not conformable with his wish for a solid career in music. Yixing came to Korea after all for the opportunity to work in the arts and make enough money from it to make a living and support his parents. It puts him into an awkward and uncomfortable position at times. He breathes for the music, drinks from the interaction with the audience and feeds on every step he takes on stage. He is firmly convinced he was made for this and knows obstacles and downsides need to be accepted in order to achieve the fame that makes it worth it.
People are upset with him every time he takes a step into a direction that is remotely for his self-promotion. The more parts he gets the more upset they seem and every performance, regardless of how happy performing makes him feel, leaves a stale aftertaste. The setting up of his studio and Zitao’s soon following pending state of activity has created a rather hostile atmosphere in Korea and no matter how hard especially the two older members and Jongdae try to cushion him and block him from being reached by it, he is perceptive enough to sense how the public opinion about the Chinese members has shifted.
The company has not helped much either and Yixing fails to not pay too much attention to it. He is grateful for the opportunity to mold his career in his homeland more in his personal vision, sure. But not only does it mean that the Chinese subgroup has grown more and more extinct in the construct of the group; it also means a neglect of Minseok and Jongdae and it shows in the declining count of parts they have in the songs of Yixing’s mother tongue. It makes him feel guilty. Both his friends are brilliant on stage individually and with the group and shining brightly in various talents off stage. His highly desired opportunity to bring forth his talents has caused a dim in the light they shine and Yixing never wanted them to pay this price for him.
It is almost comical how Jongdae assures him that he does not mind the current neglect he experiences. The younger usually blabbers in excited and broken Chinese that he had his own opportunity to promote himself and he gets a gleam of adoration in his eyes that Yixing finds simultaneously endearing and amusing, because it has been over a year since the promotions for Jongdae’s duet with Liyin and his friend is still whipped. Yixing thinks not only does Liyin jiejie deserve more, Jongdae does too. The lyrics he writes to Yixing’s music are clever, meaningful and have a great singing rhythm. In Yixing’s humble opinion Jongdae is ready to work on a solo album, but he is not making the decisions.
Minseok Ge is a different case, because unlike Jongdae he does not sugarcoat. His frustration over lines distributions is complained about with Junmyeon to the managers and then he settles for doing the absolute best with what he was given. Yixing admires his perseverance and at the same time feels immense respect for the way Minseok never places blame on other members but on the company if something does not work out for him the way he wanted. “There is no light without shadow” Minseok told him once when Yixing confronted him about the lack of possibilities to promote individually. The acting offers that came in after Crime Scene 2 speak volumes for how hard Minseok works when he is in the spotlight and Yixing can imagine he prefers to avoid the shadows in the future.
There are members who are however not as good at directing the blame towards its source. Yixing can feel it in the heavy gaze on him during lines distribution, the disinterest in his person when he returns from working for his own studio and in the furrow of eyebrows when he takes longer than the rest to order because the connection from thought to voice still has a good delay in message delivery. They mean nothing mean by it, Yixing knows. They are just as worn out, tired and exhausted as he is and everyone handles pressure a different way. Yixing does not expect them to be happy about favors done for him and appreciates when someone makes the effort to practice Korean with him. They do not exclude him in anything at least and he loves them with as much warmth as he can muster, because he needs them to feel he appreciates being treated equally.
It used to be easier, Yixing admits it. When they were still four strangers and connected with at least one Korean member he felt much more part of a group than he does now. Yifan had a knack for figuring out what he wanted to order and Luhan always knew what he wanted to say and Tao sensed well when he felt out of his element and needed a moment. Yixing only has himself to rely on now and unlike the other three he did not and does not have his one or two special people to go to outside of their little circle. Luhan had Minseok, Yifan had Junmyeon and Tao had Sehun.
When Yixing had a rare fight with Chanyeol a few weeks back the other said in an anger fit that he sometimes wished he had left instead of Yifan or Luhan and despite Chanyeol’s perfectly honest apology and genuine assurance he did not actually mean it, it was the agreement in the eyes of the rest that still keeps Yixing cautious of their inclusion of his. It is an ever present burning in is gut that he is the least liked and least wanted of the four, but he wants this life too much and accepts that he has to endure discomfort for it.
It is a common occurrence that he ends up fighting with Luhan on the phone about the situation.
“You don’t have to endure the way things are, Yixing.” Luhan often says and makes it sound easy when he says that Yixing should leave the company behind if it does not benefit his own good. But Yixing is not like Yifan and Luhan, capable of leaving in the midst of his work to sail to new havens and he is not able to push things through for himself like Tao does. Perhaps it is perceived as weakness, but EXO is still his dream and the happiness of being part of the wonderful thing they are outweighs everything else.
Luhan does not completely understand and that is okay with Yixing. He knows it was harder for the rest to let go than they let on, knows who calls Minseok at Midnight and who Junmyeon still confides in when he is unsure about something and who video calls the two youngest and causes the deafening laughter of theirs. They have left traces in everyone’s lives that stay forever. It enforces the feeling that despite hiccups here and there, Yixing belongs with them in a strange and slightly twisted way. He doubts he can do without the members even if he feels that he is unwelcome by the country.
Yifan is worried and Yixing knows. According to the other he carries too heavy of a burden and should share his thoughts with the members, but it seems easier said than done. Yifan suggested Junmyeon, but Yixing believes his leader has plenty of weight to keep balanced and Luhan definitely unsubtly hinted to Minseok that he needs to be looked after, but Yixing feels the eldest is the wrong recipient for his complaints.
Perhaps the lack of outlet causes his outburst on stage and he can read in the posture of the members that he made yet another not so smart move. Baekhyun and Jongdae cling to him in the backseat after the show and use him as pillow, but at home everyone scatters to have a bit of privacy until the managers return with dinner. Yixing knows he should not go checking, but he has a hunch his leaking of emotions has made its round online and he is a bit of a masochist. True to prediction it has already blown up all over the internet and the fandom part buries him with affection, part with heavy criticism and bringing up the member loss.
Sehun shuts Yixing’s laptop when he enters the room and pulls a chair out so he can face Yixing.
“Why do you think people hate you?”
Yixing stares at Sehun for a moment before he registers the question, entirely in Chinese.
“Because I receive opportunities that other members are more deserving of?”
“That” Sehun says with a pause “is the biggest bullshit I have heard since Tao saying that he can kill a bug without shrieking like a wrought up hen.”
Yixing has to laugh despite the earnest tone in Sehun’s voice and cracks a smile that remains unreturned. Slowly it dawns him that his youngest fellow member is very serious.
“Why? Don’t you agree? I have more lines than Jongdae despite him being the main vocalist.”
“We don’t make the decisions on lines distributions and if anything it makes sense that you have a more lines in the Mandarin version, because you are the only person left whose mother tongue it is.”
“Sure, but Minseok should have had those rap parts. He worked very hard for them.”
“By that logic, Yixing, Jongin should have had mine. Stop getting worked up about something out of your power.”
Yixing huffs at the interjection and tries to open his laptop again, but Sehun’s hand stops him.
“This conversation is long from over. I don’t understand how you can think other members have more value than you do. Everyone works hard, but we have only so much influence on the company’s promotion decisions. Just because they make evaluations to decide who gets a gig next doesn’t mean we have a different worth.”
“Sehun, if I wasn’t convinced of my talents then I wouldn’t be here.” Yixing replies with a hint of annoyance. Sehun shoots him a look of skepticism.
“Is that so? Because all I heard so far was that you think you are not worth in comparison and excuse my language but I repeat, that is bullshit. We are a team and that means different members get to shine at different times. You need to stop reading comments online so much, many are meant to be harmful instead of helpful.”
“There is a grain of truth in everything.” Yixing defends himself but Sehun shakes his head at the argument.
“In racist slurs and insults on your visuals and physique? No, Yixing, just no. We’re a few generations further and the people that still didn’t catch the train to modernity deserve pity and education, but not your attention. In EXO everyone is equal, no matter which nationality or body height they have.”
“That’s easy for you to say. You look like you jumped out of a catwalk magazine most hours of the day and this country loves you.”
“This country loves the image of EXO and we are both part of the group in case you forgot.”
“This country” Yixing repeats mocking and irritated “has gotten used to a declination of foreign members, no one will cry if the company just merges you into one big Korean group.”
He does not understand why Sehun seems so upset with him. If he wants feedback other than from the company, then Yixing needs to go online and between the fans’ encouragement are always people with less pure intend than support, Sehun knows this as well as he does. However, even those people are recipients of what EXO has to offer and their opinions will be taken into account by the management.
“Honestly, did Luhan set you up to this?”
“Why would I need someone else telling me you need to be talked to? Can’t I just notice something is off with you on my own or is that only a privilege reserved for EXO-M members?” Sehun snaps, now clearly irritated too. Yixing shrugs him off.
“You were one of his go-to people when he was still here. I know he still talks to you, too.”
“So do you. Seems like he is your go-to person then if you suspect him to send someone out of worry.”
“I don’t have someone especially for me, to be fair.”
The look Sehun shoots him is of sheer shock and makes Yixing want to shrink away from the younger.
“This is because of what Chanyeol said, isn’t it?”
“I don’t kn-“
“Cut it, Yixing, I know it is.”
It is silent for a while and Yixing watches Sehun, the tall frame hunched in defeat. He feels guilty for making the other so visibly upset with his words.
“I’m sorry. Let’s please just forget it.”
“No.” Sehun insists firmly and shakes his head as support to his words. “We will not just forget it. Your mindset isn’t right. I won’t allow you to keep thinking you can’t talk to the rest anymore.”
“I know I can talk to everyone. I just don’t have a special person for it.”
“Because everyone is your special person!” Sehun hisses in reply and grips Yixing knees so firmly his nails pierce. Yixing wants to laugh, but Sehun fixes him with a stares so alike Yifan it makes Yixing’s throat dry.
“Don’t laugh. You underestimate how much you mean to everyone else. What’s with this crap of making a big Korean group? I-”
“I was just saying-“
“Don’t interrupt me, I’m not done talking!” Sehun growls and Yixing mirrors the action.
“Manners, I am older than you.”
“I really don’t care right now. Do you want to leave so badly?”
“What if?” Yixing retorts without real bite and to gauge at the other’s reaction.
Sehun’s grip loses and the sigh he heaves makes Yixing tense.
“If that is what you want then no one will stand in your way.” Sehun says finally, avoiding his eyes.
“So you want me gone?”
“When did I say that? Why are you twisting my words like this? It has to do with being a friend and having respect for your choices. If we have a say in it at all then you are going nowhere when it isn’t with us or as part of us, you moron. Do you even know how scared everyone is that you decide you had enough too? We all see how much you have to endure and perhaps you will be fed up with it too, soon. We aren’t blind to the success the former members have and everyone understands that those promises shine brighter than what being part of this group may offer at best.”
Yixing feels the tension easing out of his shoulders and slumps forward a little, studying the distress evident on Sehun’s features. Admittedly he has played with the thought of a career like Yifan’s or Luhan’s, but he simply cannot picture himself like that in the end. He envisions himself part of EXO, even with his studio. So he tells Sehun.
“Well, Tao also promised he would stay with us and no one knows what is going to happen with him.” Sehun says with a resigning shrug and Yixing puts his laptop to the side before pulling Sehun’s neck until the other’s head rests comfortably in his lap.
“Unlike Zitao’s parents mine don’t meddle with my life and I have a different attitude towards what you have to accept in return for fame. Do you think Jongdae, Chanyeol and I wrote Promise for fun?”
"Feelings change.” Sehun shrugs and Yixing starts combing through his hair, trying to soothe him.
“Mine didn’t and I don’t think Zitao’s did. I love being part of EXO.”
“Good.” Sehun mumbles with closed eyes “That’s what I wanted to hear.”
“I was just joking about leaving.”
“I still is an upsetting thought. I’m studying your language very hard so you can talk in it more. You can’t just leave.”
“Ah?” Yixing asks with fake surprise in his tone “I thought you were doing it so you understand the Chinese porn Zitao possesses.”
Sehun’s punches hurt only a little and Yixing is glad that the atmosphere between them lifts again. He sees Sehun’s point and it warms him knowing that he is deemed a valuable asset of the group. Perhaps he really has let himself get too affected by opinions that do not matter to the rest of them.
“Yixing?” Sehun breaks the silence after a while and Yixing hums affirmative.
“Can you promise me something?”
“Sure. What is it?”
“Will you talk to the rest of the members? I’m sure they want to hear about this too.”
“I can do that.” Yixing promises softly.
Sehun shoots up with a grin and grabs his arm.
“Perfect. Let’s do it right now!”
“Right now? But Sehun, I-“
Sehun does not listen and drags him with force and a yell of “gathering in the living room right now” into the hallway.
In the aftermath Yixing can say it is his first time he saw Junmyeon lose is cool to the extent of yelling at each member why he loves them and cares about them and absolutely forbids them to go anywhere that is not their family. It is a bit amusing. Minseok is slightly angry at him for saying nothing and Baekhyun uses up half a box of tissues to wipe his face, because he was not aware Yixing feels the way he does. Sehun sits on the side with a grim, but oddly satisfied face and Yixing feels grateful that the other reached out to him.
So yes, Yixing’s relationship status with Korea might be “it’s complicated”, but it is okay, because with everyone else it is definitely “in love”.