“Something on your mind?”
Lu Han snaps out from his train of thoughts and realizes he’s been frowning. Kris’ lips are curled into a smile, but Lu Han can see exhaustion behind those sharp curves and lines that makes him feel a pang of guilt and sadness. “No, nothing,” Lu Han lies smoothly, a smile that doesn’t quite reach his eyes formed on his lips. “Hey, are you okay? You should get more rest, Kris.”
“Don’t worry about me. You should rest more. Yixing said your condition hasn’t been really stable,” Kris sighs. “Yixing — he’s been on the down side lately. He’s really sad to see you like this. He still smiles, that kid, but his smiles used to be a lot brighter, you know? ”
Lu Han pouts. “I’m alright, Kris. You shouldn’t worry too much, it doesn’t look good on you.”
A smirk spreads on Kris’ lips, thick eyebrows shooting up and Lu Han can feel heat crawling under his cheeks. For the first time after the crash, Lu Han is reminded of how stunning Kris really is. He reaches out to touch his lover’s face and Kris holds his hand gently, leaning closer to bask into the touch. There’s longing in his eyes and Lu Han feels a pang of sadness because this would be over soon, that he only has merely few days left to be with him. He can’t imagine what would happen when he’s gone, would Kris meet somebody new? It’s a selfish thought to expect Kris to stay faithful to him even after he’s gone, but he doesn’t really like the idea of Kris being with someone else, either.
And right there, the idea of dying has become very much real to him.
Lu Han feels like crying.
“If I die,” the words trotted from his mouth suddenly and they feel bitter on the tip of his tongue. He briefly glances at one corner of the room, where Sehun’s been standing, wordlessly watching. “Would you promise me one thing?”
Kris freezes. “What are you talking about?” He asks slowly, but Lu Han is persistent. “Can you promise me that you’ll keep on living and live your life to the fullest?”
“What are you talking about,” Kris repeats and the words come out trembling.
“Promise me, Kris.”
“But you won’t leave me.” Kris trembles, and the next words coming out from his lips are not louder than a whisper. “You’re not leaving me, are you?”
“Stupid,” Lu Han laughs shakily and takes Kris’ lips against his.
Stupid stupid stupid —
From where he’s been watching, back leaned against the wall in the corner, Sehun flutters his eyes shut and wills himself invisible. For this once, he voluntarily lets himself lost in his own sea of thoughts.
Lu Han glances at Sehun, who’s been surprisingly silent for the past few hours, and knits his eyebrows. “You’ve been really quiet today,” he points out, eyes fixed firm on the blonde-haired angel of death.
Sehun stays still, mum.
“Are you sulking now?”
“Okay, you’re scaring me.”
Sehun finally lifts his gaze off the floor and tilts his head slightly to the side, eyes now gazing right into Lu Han’s. His expression is unreadable, as most of the time, but this time it makes Lu Han feel somewhat restless. Lu Han tries not to waver and lifts his eyebrows, lips in a thin line, silently urging the other to say something.
“If I tell you that you’ve forgotten something really important after your first car crash,” Sehun begins, eyes unwavering. “Would you believe me?”
“What,” Lu Han stutters, “wha— what do you mean?”
“Would you believe me?” Sehun repeats, firmly, persistent.
Lu Han opens his mouth only to shut it again, frowning. He tries to search the meaning behind Sehun’s previous statement in the shinigami’s dark brown eyes but to no avail. “Well. It depends,” Lu Han says and pauses. “What do you know?” He frowns.
“There’s someone missing in your story.” Sehun begins tentatively. He seems unsure and careful. It’s not something Lu Han used to seeing from him, and it makes him anxious. Sehun says the next words carefully, “I’d like to think that he is — was — an important person in your life.”
“Who?” Lu Han’s voice sounds distant even to his own ears. It’s as if someone else is saying it out for him; a mere echo from somewhere far away, somewhere out of reach.
“You really don’t remember, huh.”
“I didn’t miss anyone,” Lu Han replies quietly, words trembling slightly. “I’ve asked about them all.”
Sehun’s smile is cold. “Then maybe you asked all the wrong questions, Lu Han.” He gets to his feet and walks closer to Lu Han’s bed, eyes as cold as his words were. He stops when he’s right beside the bed, thighs touching the edge. Lu Han’s frown grows deeper, but his heart is beating significantly faster. He’s about to open his mouth when Sehun leans in, closer and closer —
Sehun stops midway and freezes, so does Lu Han.
Zhang Yixing is standing in the doorway. There isn’t any nurse following him, Lu Han notices as he manages to shift his gaze to the doctor. Yixing closes the door quietly behind him and smiles, approaching the vacant chair Kris usually sits on beside the bed. Lu Han forces out a thin smile in return and sees Sehun leans away from his peripheral vision. In a blink of eye, the Shinigami disappears into the thin air.
Lu Han inhales shakily as his heartbeats eventually return to its normal pace. “Yixing,” the words come out as a whisper.
Yixing holds his hand gently; a small, weary smile on his lips. “Xiao Lu. How are you today?”
“I’m too old to be called Xiao Lu now, aren’t I?” Lu Han chuckles, feeling slightly dizzy. His mind is a mess right now. “Why don’t you tell me how am I today, doc?” He jokes, squeezing Yixing hand slightly.
“You look beautiful, Lu Han. You always do.” Yixing offers kindly.
Lu Han huffs. “You know that’s not what I meant. How’s my blood test this morning?”
“But I mean it,” Yixing insist, “and you’re getting better and better. You’re going to be okay again soon, I promise.”
Lu Han smiles. “Don’t make a promise you can’t keep, Xingxing,” He chuckles. “It won’t do you any good.”
A comfortable silence descends upon them and Lu Han mind wanders, most of which anchored to a blond-haired man with a pair of cold, dark-brown eyes.
“Kris,” Yixing starts again, voice slightly hoarse. “He’s a mess without you.”
Lu Han cuts his train of thoughts and refocuses on his best friend who has his gaze dropped to the floor. “You have to,” Yixing pauses and inhales shakily. “You have to get better and fix him.”
Lu Han doesn’t say anything and simply gazes at the younger. Yixing, who’s always been so kind and patient. Yixing, who’s been working harder than anyone else he knows to make his parents happy. Yixing, his best friend since as far as he can remember. It’s always been the two of them, until Kris eventually came. He can still remember them playing at the backyard with toy swords and Yixing’s carefree laugh like it’s only yesterday. It’s funny how in reality it’s been years past and Yixing in front of him now isn’t at all the same as he was back then.
“Yixing.” Lu Han says warmly, eyes gazing straight at the younger’s. “When I’m gone, you’ll take care of him, right?” When Yixing doesn’t say anything in response, he adds, “Not for me. For him.” A pause. “For yourself, Yixing,” he says softly. Still no response.
Lu Han swallows. An intake of breath. In. Out. “You love him, don’t you?”
This succeeds in getting a response from the younger. Yixing lifts his gaze from the floor, eyes widening, mouth opening and closing before clumsy words finally make their way out. “I don’t want you to— to die, Lu Han, God, no,” he trembles. “I love you both. I can’t. Don’t.”
Lu Han shakes his head slightly. “I’m so sorry. I… I was too blind to notice.” He pauses. “No, I was too selfish to admit that I knew, that I knew my best friend has been in love with my fiancé all these years.”
“No,” Yixing shakes his head firmly. “Don’t.”
“Everything feels wrong, Yixing,” Lu Han says hoarsely, “I don’t know what it is and it’s so frustrating.”
There are fresh tears rolling out from the corners of Yixing’s eyes now and Lu Han feels his heart clench at the sight. He hates making Yixing cry, he really does, and now he feels like crying too. Everything just feels unfair.
He takes a deep breath and decides. “I’m gonna ask you to do me a favor, and I need you to answer to my questions truthfully.”
Yixing simply raises his eyebrows, tears still streaming down his cheeks.
“Did I ever know anyone named Oh Sehun?”
What have I done?
Lu Han covers his face with his the palms of his cold hands, trembling slightly as tears starting to fall. Yixing left quietly a few moments earlier when he’s finished and Lu Han had been holding back the tears throughout Yixing’s story although his heart breaks with every word the younger said.
(“You had been together for barely two months yet you’re already madly in love with each other. I’ve never seen you like that, Lu Han, that’s how much you loved him. That night you said you’re going on a date with him, and the crash — the crash happened.
“He died on impact. There’s nothing we could do. His parents brought him home the next day to hold his funeral and never came back ever since. We couldn’t contact them and when you woke up days later with amnesia we thought— we thought it would be easier for you to live on without any memories of him.
“Kris— he’s loved you for years, you know? You’re all he sees,” Yixing smiles shakily. “Your parents have known him for years and you know how much they adore him. It was a perfect opportunity and it was — it was easy, to make you fall in love with him.”)
He feels sick in the stomach. He lets out a low moan and curls slightly to the side, eyes clenched shut. This isn’t happening, he tells himself, it’s all a dream.
He felt a gentle brush across his cheeks.
A ghost of touch from the past.
“Sehun,” he hears himself whisper. “Sehun, are you there?”
He slowly opens his eyes to find no one. He’s still alone and everything is still very much real.
There’s a trembling yet gentle touch on his wrist after awhile.
Unspoken I’m sorrys hang in the air, wrapping him closer to a presence so close he cannot see.
When consciousness begins leaving him, a familiar silhouette comes into view. Strands of messy jet-black hair fall perfectly just above a pair of brown eyes. A sight so familiar; a sight that reminds him too close of home, if not for something long ended with something akin to crescent moon shadows behind.
Lu Han is taken to the emergency room on the twelfth night.
It’s a rather quiet night outside. Sehun watches in silence, his back against the wall in the less busy part of the room, as the doctors and nurses surround the now unconscious man laying helplessly on the bed, skin as pale as the bed spread beneath his frail body. He raises his gaze from Lu Han to the clock on the wall. It’s a little over eleven p.m.
He’s only got an hour left.
Do it, Jongin’s voice echoes in his mind. He shakes the voice off his mind and sweeps his gaze across the room. Yixing and a few nurses are busy keeping Lu Han alive; orders are shouted and hissed, face scrunched in concentration, desperately attempting to pull Lu Han back to consciousness. Yixing’s face is almost as pale as his best friend, but his hands are still surprisingly steady. Sehun knows he knows he shouldn’t make any mistake now.
But Sehun also knows that any of those attempts won’t work.
Well, not that he’s now here, anyway.
He eventually averts his focus towards the door. Leaning just behind the door is Kris. He’s trembling hard, hot tears streaming down his face. His usual neat jet-black hair is now a mess. He’s only accompanied by empty benches in the long, quiet corridor. There’s no one to tell him that it’s okay. That it’s going to be alright.
Sehun feels something akin to pity for him, to be honest, but there’s nothing he can do about it, really. Lu Han has to die. He should and would leave Kris behind in this world. Well, it’s not that the person who dies would have it easy.
Lu Han’s heartbeats eventually return to normal minutes later. Yixing steps back from the bed and leans against the nearest wall, panting, sweat beading on his temples; his bangs wet against his forehead. He’s still pale which is of course reasonable. He may be a professional doctor and has had people dying on him but Lu Han is someone very close to him, after all. He mumbles instructions to the nurses, which Sehun can’t really hear and comprehend anyway, and walks out of the room.
Sehun stands still as the nurses check for Lu Han’s vital signs before eventually heading out of the room as well. Lu Han’s soft breathing, almost too faint to hear, and the beeping of life supporting machines fill the room clumsily when the door is finally shut. Sehun watches the weak rises and falls of Lu Han’s chest, a frown on his usually emotionless face as if watching the sight is physically hurting him. He closes his eyes, teeth digging into his lower lip, thoughts running wild in his mind. He seems to be deciding something. Hands of time tick louder to his ears, roughly telling him that he only has a little time left.
The twelfth day will be over very soon.
When he opens his eyes, his expression is calmer. He approaches the sleeping figure slowly, carefully, as if afraid the slightest movement would wake the other up.
He opens his mouth. “Lu Han.”
He’s about to touch the older when Lu Han finally flutters his eyes open. He blinks a few times weakly before fixing his gaze on the taller man. For a moment they both freeze until Sehun can see the other’s hand tremble, as of wanting to reach out; reach out to him, but to his own surprise he takes a step back. He can see confusion and moreover hurt flashing in those dark-brown eyes. It’s the first time Sehun wills himself visible to the other after what happened the previous day.
“Hi,” Sehun starts. His voice is thick and he can’t decide whether he likes it. He needs to do his job soon and he needs to look and sound convincing as an angel of death. He clears his throat and decides to repeat again, bolder this time. “Hi.”
He braves himself and takes a step forward. “It’s a good thing that you can’t talk right now. It’s kinda annoying to hear you talking sometimes,” He chuckles. He doesn’t get much reaction from Lu Han, probably because he’s too weak to, more than anything. “I think I have to… tell you some things.”
Sehun continues. “All the things Yixing said to you are true. We knew each other,” he pauses. The words don’t taste quite right. “Okay, a lot more than that, actually, but I won’t go into the details. For now.”
He glances at the time. “You see, there are two ways of picking up souls,” he says softly, diverting his focus back on Lu Han, a small smile on his lips. “First is just wait for the soul to release itself from the body which usually doesn’t take much time. Some people need us to pull them out, though, to make it quicker and easier. Some of us have a really hectic schedule anyway. The second is with a Kiss.”
“A Kiss forcefully brings out a person’s memories chronologically since his birth, like a movie, and in some cases it even shows a glimpse of After Life. In a way it hurts because of the memories, but sometimes it makes a person easier to accept their death instead. We rarely do that especially these days, you know, since we have to be quick and move on to our next assigned soul. We don’t want to hurt anyone, either. Contrary to popular belief, we’re not that evil, you know? We do that usually to convince particular souls to… what should I say. To convince, I guess; a plea, that death won’t be as bad as it seems.”
The fluctuation of line showing Lu Han’s heart rate is getting slower and slower. The rises and the falls are getting weaker, the soft green line threatening to lie flat down any time soon. Lu Han feels like the air has grown thin around him and his head aches so bad he wants to scream at Sehun to just end this already, but instead he tries hard to stay awake as long as he can and listens to the rest of what Sehun wants to say. After all, he can only give Sehun that much.
For now, at least.
Sehun gaze softens. “I understand that what you would later see probably wouldn’t change anything. I completely understand that you’ve erased me completely from your life and it’s been years; but I want you to allow me to take you back to those times. I know it’s a selfish thing to ask, but I really want you to at least know what we once were. What we once had.”
“Technically speaking I don’t really need your permission to do that, but I think I should warn you because it’s gonna hurt a little, I guess.” Sehun smiles and in the dim lighting Lu Han won’t be able to see the peach color on the younger’s usual pale cheeks as heat creeps under his skin.
And then he leans in.
I… I don’t want to lose you, hyung.
Sehun flutters his eyes open and immediately winces in reflex as bright lights pouring onto his vision through the windows, producing black dots dancing dancing around his vision. He groans and clamps his eyes shut again, pulling the blanket up to cover his face to protect him from the light. In the process, he learns two things: first, he’s forgotten to cover the windows with the curtain when he got home last night (actually he got home at two a.m. — which is a very early morning, really); and second, he’s very much late for breakfast.
It may be very well past noon already.
It takes him ten more minutes to finally decide that he should be up. To rise and shine or whatever grossly sweet things Chanyeol always says every morning. He makes himself a bowl of cereal and takes a quick shower. He feels slightly chilled and wonders why, because it’s in the middle of a freaking July.
The street outside is, he finds out with annoyance and slight amusement, blanketed with snow when he heads out. Someone in the third level will get into trouble, he thinks dryly as he heads to the fourth level. Third level is the Weather Control Department. Things like this rarely happens, of course, because Zhou Mi, the head of the department, values discipline and precision highly and besides, as far as he and most of the After Life population know, Zhou Mi isn’t too fond of snow and winter.
A familiar deep, beautiful voice greets him when he arrives. “Sehun-ah!”
Sehun feels a smile blooms on his own lips, eyes turning into a pair of crescent moons when he sees Baekhyun walking towards him and eventually pulls him in for a hug. “Baekhyun-hyung. Good, uh, afternoon?”
“This is too cold to be called a good afternoon,” Baekhyun sighs. He’s wearing a decent amount of clothes to shield him from the cold, Sehun notices, but then again Baekhyun’s always been weaker when it comes to cold weather. “I heard Minseok-hyung kinda messed things up.”
“I see,” Sehun says sympathetically. Minseok never made such a clumsy mistake before, he thinks. “Maybe something distracted him, it’s very unusual of him,” he wonders out loud. Baekhyun shrugs in response and smiles a bright, toothy smile again. “So what brought you here today? You’ve been around here so much lately, I wonder what could possibly be the reason?”
“What?” Sehun stares at him blankly for a second and blushes. “Uh, I…”
Baekhyun gives him a Curious Eyes and widens them innocently. “Yes?”
“Stop teasing Sehunnie, Baek,” Chanyeol says as he pops out of nowhere and hugs his lover from behind. Baekhyun pouts at this and Sehun gives Chanyeol a grateful smile. “He’s over there. He’d be finished for the day soon, I guess.”
Sehun’s gaze follows Chanyeol’s pointing thumb. In that direction, a familiar man with his hair the color of honey is talking to someone. The conversation seems to excite the man as he talks with hand gestures and a wide smile Sehun knows so well. If he blocks anything else, he can hear the man’s bright laugh as loud as his heart.
It takes another two minutes for the man to finally look at Sehun’s direction. When their eyes meet, his lips forms an o and it soon melts into another bright smile. He quickly ends his conversation with the man and jogs towards Sehun and Chanyeol and Baekhyun.
“Lu Han!” Baekhyun beams and pulls the taller into a hug. “Sehunnie’s been waiting for you.”
“Has he,” Lu Han says brightly, brown eyes staring playfully at Sehun who quickly denies with stammered words trotting out from his trembling lips (Of course not, I was only walking by —). It earns laughter from his hyungs and results in heat creeping under his skin to his cheeks.
“Looks like the newbie’s debut show would be cancelled tonight, since it’s outdoor and I don’t think this is going too stop anytime soon.” Chanyeol says sadly as he looks up, lifting his palm up in the air, gathering a small amount snow which starts falling on his gangly palm. Sehun lifts his own gaze to the cloudy skies and nods. “Yeah,” he agrees. “Too bad, though. I’d like to see him singing. Kim Jongdae, isn’t it? Came in last month. Heard he’s really good — bet not as good as you, of course, Baekhyun-hyung,” Sehun adds sheepishly and Baekhyun beams in delight.
“Well, if you guys don’t mind, I’ll go first. The cold is killing me,” Baekhyun smiles apologetically, sleep clouding in his eyes and as if in reflex, Chanyeol tightens his embrace around the smaller man. “Oh no! Poor Baekhyunnie, Chanyeol will protect you from the cold!” He says and quickly guides sleepy Baekhyun away after winking at Sehun and Lu Han as some sort of see ya! or maybe something much more. Sehun thinks wholeheartedly he'd rather not know.
“They’re so adorable,” Lu Han sighs fondly and starts walking. Sehun quickly follows until they’re walking side by side. Somewhere between white cold breaths and reddening cheeks, they find their hands linked together. None of them remembers who initiate it first, but none of them seem to care, either.
“I still don’t quite understand why you applied for the Love Department.” Sehun starts casually as they walk, breath turning into white smokes despite the growing warmth he feels inside. “I thought you’re going to my department.”
“So I can be with you 24/7? Pfft,” Lu Han scoffs mockingly but after a thought, his gaze softens and there’s a small smile tugging at his lips. A comfortable silence descends upon them and Sehun waits, not retorting as he usually would, slipping his free hand into his pocket. It’s getting colder. Lu Han seems to notice this and squeezes the hand he holds gently. It succeeds in giving Sehun more warmth and the younger squeezes back in return, smiling slightly; a wordless yet sincere thank you. Lu Han’s next words contain a certain warmth to them. A warmth which results from something he’s fond of; something he holds dear. “I have to take care of Yixing and Kris, I think. Help so they can work it out. It’s the least I can do for them.” He says, only loud enough for both of them to hear.
“I see.” Sehun whistles. Then he pauses. “Do you… regret it?”
Lu Han stares at him, eyebrows raised. “Regret what?”
Sehun takes a moment to find the right words and drops his gaze to their intertwined fingers. “This.”
Lu Han stops walking, making Sehun stops along with him, and follows the younger’s gaze. He frowns slightly but merely for a few seconds, as if struggling mentally whether he should say whatever it is in his mind at the moment, mulling over the words. “I’ve been thinking,” he finally says tentatively. Sehun raises his gaze, eyebrows arched in question, silently urging the older to go on. Lu Han is avoiding his gaze now, eyes on sky. The clouds are now cotton-white, fleeting around comfortably around the blue sky. The snow, he notices, has stopped falling. Lu Han bites his lip. “I’ve been thinking about…” he pauses, takes a deep breath, and releases it with a sigh, eyes closing. “This.”
“It’s been two months since I… came here. You’ve shown me everything and I’ve done a lot of thinking; I think I haven’t been thinking that hard for the last couple of years, but — there’s something. I can’t really explain it, I’ve never been good with words, but there’s something,” he stares straight at Sehun now and Sehun can see frustration, sadness, confusion, and some more raw emotions dancing in those eyes. Lu Han’s next words come out choked. “You were real. I know. I understand. But so was Kris and everything else that came after you — ”
“Shh,” Sehun cuts in, involuntarily steps back and releases Lu Han’s hand from his. “Just. It’s okay. I understand. I can — ” he takes a deep breath.
You can what? The voice inside his head asks lazily.
Let him go? It continues, cold and merciless. Sehun shudders.
You’re not a hero, Oh Sehun.
“No no no no,” Lu Han shakes his head quickly, taking Sehun’s hand back in his, a hint of desperation in his voice. “That’s not what I meant,” he says, “Even before I knew… I’ve felt something. About you. You felt so familiar, and it’s strange, because as you know I didn’t remember ever meeting you. It didn’t make any sense to me. But now that I do — “ he pauses. “I won’t say it’s gonna be easy, but I’m willing to try.” A small, hopeful smile with a small trace of sadness is playing on his lips. “Again.”
A small chuckle. “After all, I did promise you. Remember?”
Sehun simply stares at him blankly. There are just so many emotions whirling around inside him that he thinks he can’t feel properly at the moment. “What. What?”
“Is forever good enough for you?” Lu Han asks, a soft smile playing on his lips.
This sounds terribly familiar, Sehun thinks numbly. He pauses and searches into his tangled strings of memories. It must be there somewhere. “Huh?”
“I’m promising you forever, as many forevers as I may have,” Lu Han replies smoothly, as if he’s been rehearsing the line over and over in his head.
Oh. Sehun suddenly feels the urge to cry and laugh at the same time. His next words are slightly shaken. “Forever is an awfully long time to look at your face.”
Lu Han’s smug grin is annoying as ever, even with his teary eyes. “You love this face. Take it or leave it.”
Sehun leans in and presses their forehead together, eyes closed, a small chuckle escapes his trembling lips. “This was where — ” he takes in a lungful of air shakily. He shakes his head slightly, words stuck in his throat. “This was where it ended.” The words come out thick and quiet, as if he’s afraid if he said it out loud, something bad would happen and ruin everything.
A drop of tear.
Lu Han wipes the tear gently and shakes his head. “It’s never too late to start again,” he whispers softly onto the younger’s lips and flutters his eyes shut.
Under the clearing blue sky, Sehun mirrors a smile that matches Lu Han’s as their lips finally touch.
And this, I promise, is where we really begin.
“Instead of forever, promise me you won’t leave me again.”
“So you don’t want forever?”
“I do. Make it forever and you not leaving me again.”
“Well, technically, it’s you who left me. You’re the one who died, remember? Even after saying I don’t want to lose you, hyung, and poof!”
“You remember too much now it’s annoying.”
“Now shut up and kiss me again.”
A/N #1: I can't Chinese.
A/N #2: I actually started writing this in September and wasn't planning to write this more than 5k words or something, but it kinda turned out to be like this lol. I was kinda busy last semester and couldn't write / fangirl as often and as much I used to /cries/. Anyway, thank you for reading and I hope you all enjoyed this! ^^ /off to catch up on exo again.
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