because darkness is needed for starlight
When Tao enters SM Entertainment, he is awed at how supportive the Chinese trainees are of each other - and even more so at how encouraging those who have already debuted are. He had been expecting loneliness and adversity while desperately hoping for at least acceptance, and found himself pleasantly surprised at how easily that came. He doubts that it has anything to do with he himself (even speaking in his native tongue, he is just a little too quiet and has a tendency to speak in jumbled sentences when he's nervous) but rather that the others understand how much it means to belong to something, anything, when you give up your home and everything you have ever known to chase a dream that always seems to be just beyond the horizon.
Most tell him upon first meeting that they would like to help him in any way that they can if he ever asks for it - and out of those, many at some point will. But it's Zhou Mi that strikes him the most, because instead, Zhou Mi smiles a bit wryly and tells him, "Huang Zitao, I can't promise to always be able to help you out when you need it. But if you ever need reminding that you have people on your side, I can do my best with that. If you ever need somebody who will listen to you and give you an honest answer, I can do that, too."
Tao returns the smile (smaller and more hesitant, but sincere) and decides he rather admires Zhou Mi.
One day when the pressure is just too much, when he just can't catch the flow of the words the way he normally does and his feet won't seem to work in time with the rest of his body, and he feels much like crying when he walks down the practice rooms' hallway except he is too embarrassed (not too proud) to show his emotions so openly, he runs into Zhou Mi again.
Zhou Mi waves away his attempt at a formal Korean greeting, frowning slightly as he says, "I know that look better than I wish I did. You might not be crying now, Huang Zitao, but your eyes look very sad. Do you want to talk about it?"
"I'll be alright," Tao says, voice hitching slightly on the word fine. "I just - it's not my day, today."
There's a pause before Zhou Mi offers him a small smile, an encouraging smile, before reaching over and pulling Tao into his arms - "Not today, but maybe soon. Don't give up." Afterwards, almost as if by second thought, he asks, "This is okay, right?"
The hug is awkward: Zhou Mi is bony and their bodies don't fit together comfortably. His chin digs into the soft part of Tao's shoulder. And Tao is still not quite used to this kind of skinship, coming from China where affection is not so easily given, especially among people who aren't close. But he finds himself clinging back because Zhou Mi is warm, not only his hands but his very being. "Yes," he replies, trying not to choke up, even though he thinks Zhou Mi would probably understand it if he cried a little. "It's okay."
In fact, he thinks, it's just what he needed.
Originally posted here.
fandoms: Super Junior-M, Exo
description: Zhou Mi and Tao hug, because sometimes that's all you really need.