QMi AU - Portrait
Paris was its own world. For years Zhou Mi had lived there. At home in a foreign land. His own native country had felt somehow painful and suffocating.
He had arrived with his parents’ surprising blessing, some money in his pocket and determined to work towards his establishment as an artist. He had made some progress when, a year ago, a block had gotten to him, his inspiration locked away and hidden somewhere inside him.
Desperate to rid himself of the block’s stupor, he had gone back to basics: placing his canvas by the window and painting what he saw. And so his eyes had first rested upon him. A boy, looking no older than 19, standing by the door of his favourite Café, across the street, as if unveiled by the city itself.
He was utterly captivating. A charming profile. Lovely eyes. Alluring lips. Standing in the snow he was Innocence. Hiding from the rain he was Seduction. Basking in the sunlight he was Temptation. For 9 months Zhou Mi had watched him from his window and swore to anyone who would let him that he had found his Muse.
His mind was stimulated to a creativity and talent he had no memory of having. His brush moved along the canvas as if enchanted.
He often speculated about what his new favourite person did with his life. He sure seemed to have a lot of free time to be constantly hanging around the Café. Maybe he was a cute student. Maybe he was unlucky and unemployed. Maybe his job was nearby and he enjoyed spending time at the square.
It took 11 occasions of dashing down the stairs and out his building and 5 whole days spent at the Café for Zhou Mi to decide the time of their meeting was best left to fate. The boy was elusive, always out of his reach. One day he had even considered gathering his courage and shouting something at him from his window. But that would surely only scare him away and that wouldn’t do at all.
He asked himself if it was possible to fall irrevocably in love with someone he would probably never meet and received an affirmative answer.
For every new piece he finished, Zhou Mi made a new portrait of the boy. And they took up most of his studio now, spread out all around him, surrounding him in the loving gaze he painted each time.
And the day his mother finally came to visit, he happily told her all about the boy. She patiently listened to his ramblings, as if he was a teenager still and not a 26 year old man, even saying she was pleased he had found someone else to love.
Zhou Mi had never been in love before. He wondered what she meant by that.
The first sign of alarm was his mother’s horrified look as she entered his studio. She shook with each step she took inside, looking as frightened as though she had seen Death itself.
'Zhou Mi…' she whispered, her face white as chalk. 'I thought you had forgotten.'
She kept looking around her, at all the portraits he had painted so tenderly, her eyes growing wider, her breathing quickening.
'Is this the boy you told me about?' her voice trembled with every word, as if she was afraid of his answer.
'Yes. Of course it is.' Zhou Mi instantly regretted his reply. His mother looked positively crazed. He barely recognized her.
'But… he's gone.' she went back to whispering 'He's been gone for so long now.'
Then it happened. His memories burned their way through him once again. He remembered.
He remembered painting in the University’s gardens. He remembered a curious exchange student with his backpack full of snacks. Breathtakingly beautiful. He remembered the sweet taste of lips. Apple scented silky hair. The soft feel of unexplored skin. A warm, enveloping voice. He remembered love. And, above all, he remembered a name.
Kyuhyun! Kyuhyun! Kyuhyun! his mind screamed at him. Seconds went by before he realized he had shouted the name for real.
He remembered kisses and hiding and giddiness and the bravado brought by the folly of youth. He remembered thinking it was safe enough, running across. Thinking Kyuhyun was by his side until he heard the yelling of passers-by. Seeing blood. So much blood. Helplessness. Despair. And a last breath.
The pain pierced through him tearing his whole heart apart, crushing his existence into a million unrecoverable pieces. He collapsed on his knees on the floor, all strength leaving him. He wailed his suffering yet the icy fire destroying him would not be abated. He felt his self come undone, as if his very soul wanted no more part of this world and planned to leave behind an empty shell.
There was never a boy standing by the Café. And yet there always was. And he was his. His Kyuhyun. His love was gone, forever out of reach. He was to blame. He was the sinner. And in Zhou Mi’s memory the echo of an oath from the past resonated.
'Mi, promise to show me Paris some day…'
Other AU edits