John loves his job as head rigger for Cirque Brilliance. The heavy scarring over half his face makes it a little hard to meet new people, but John’s got a good crew and a nice found family, and he’s content with his lot in life.
When Cirque hires talent for a new show, John meets Bao, a bright, ever-cheerful acrobat. Bao seems drawn to John and becomes a constant presence at his side—talking to him during downtime, spending time with him at lunch, and generally seeking out his company.
John doesn’t know what to make of this. Sure, he likes Bao—maybe a little too much, honestly—but he’s had enough experience to know that Bao couldn’t possibly like him back. Or so he thinks, anyway. Fortunately, Bao seems determined to prove him wrong.
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About Aidan Wayne
Aidan Wayne is a big believer in character-driven stories with happy endings. This is not to say that stories can’t contain a little (or a lot) of grief, just that at the end of it all expect there to be bandages and hugs. They particularly like to write about minority characters because damn it, they deserve happy endings too.
When not writing, Aidan enjoys practicing aerial, martial arts, and ASL, and watching reality cooking shows. They are probably in the middle of twelve projects as you read this.
To celebrate the release of Counterbalance, one lucky winner will receive $20 in Riptide Publishing credit! Leave a comment with your contact info to enter the contest. Entries close at midnight, Eastern time, on September 17, 2016. Contest is NOT restricted to U.S. entries. Thanks for following the tour, and don’t forget to leave your contact info!
John added another note to his schematics and then stretched, back cracking, before he glanced at the time. It was getting late, and most of the crew had already gone home. There were some new cast members still milling around the base, popping in and out of rooms, learning the layout. A few had stuck their heads into the operations room, taken one look at John, and ducked right back out again.
John was pretty used to that with the newbies, especially the foreign ones who had language barriers on top of fear of the unknown. Then again, it wasn’t like Montreal was all that much better where the latter was concerned anyway. And he didn’t really care; his job was to make sure the performers stayed safe and that everything worked properly. He didn’t much need to talk to them, past explaining the rigging and talking about stage layout.
He was making his final notes on the rigging plan for tomorrow, when the door opened yet again. John glanced up to check who it was, maybe scare ’em away. Shorter guy, lean build but well muscled, Asian. One of the new performers, then. But he’d take off after catching sight of John, just like the others had.
Except he was coming in.
“Hello!” he said brightly, hand extended. “I am Bao Liu. Please excuse my English.”
“Evenin’.” John hesitated before putting out his own hand to shake. “John. Nice to meet you.”
Bao pumped his hand enthusiastically, grip firm. “I am saying nice to meet you to everyone. Very important to learn the whole team. You are last one I find!”
“Oh,” John said, a little nonplussed. “Well, uh, I’m part of the stage crew. Setup, rigging, that sort of stuff.”
“Ah, you are keeping us safe.” Bao grinned. “Very, very good to meet you. Thank you for your hard work.”
“No, uh, no problem. Just doing my job.”
Bao nodded and kept smiling and didn’t seem all that inclined to leave, so John added, “You a new acrobat, then?”
“Yes! I’m hand balancer and general gymnast. This is first time I will be performing outside China. Very exciting!”
“Oh. Good. Glad you’re excited. Welcome to Montreal.”
“Thank you!” And Bao stayed where he was.
“You, uh, liking it here?”
“Very much.” Bao nodded. “Very interesting. Very busy. I am very lucky Cirque chose to take me.”
“Yeah,” John said. He knew as well as anyone that the audition process for Cirque was brutal. They only took the best. This was a new show being created from the ground up, and they’d brought in a whole new cast for it from all over the world. “Congrats. That’s a big deal.”
Bao nodded again, bouncing on the balls of his feet. “It is getting late. I see you have work still. Have a good night. It was very good to meet you, John.” He stuck his hand out again.
John tamped down the sigh and shook. Bao clearly meant well. “Good to meet you too. Have a good night. Don’t get lost on the way back to the apartments.” That was kind of a joke—the Montreal studio base and the apartments that housed the in-training cast were all on the same property; Bao could walk it, if he was really so inclined. It was easier to set up an in-training cast in subsidized housing, especially when so many were from out of country, since they’d be here for six months to make a new show. After that, it would be time for touring.
John, being a permanent crew member and working on whatever shows Cirque offered him, had his own little apartment not too far from the studio. It wasn’t much, but it was enough for one guy. A place to keep his things and unwind alone.
“I will not get lost,” Bao said earnestly. “They are very close, and there is a bus.”
“Right,” John said. “Have a good night, now.”
“You as well!” And then he was out the door again.
John shook his head. Cirque got all types. Bao seemed nice enough, if excitable. From China, huh? Yeah, he remembered the other crew members saying something about a lot of Asian influence in this new show. Something about the natural elements and yin and yang, with a lot of aerial work, pyrotechnics, even some aquatic effects. It was going to be interesting to figure out all the details as the show got created, though the waterworks were gonna be the usual nightmare. At least all the fancy stuff wouldn’t come until later. For the first two months, rigging was just making sure mats were placed properly, lines and counterbalances were set, and nets were where they needed to be.
He was less looking forward to walking around the studio and prepping while the new cast gazed at him in horror, but what could you do. They always got used to him after a couple of weeks.