Planning with Lu Han started after Yifan’s cafe closed the next day. In light of the new information regarding Lu Han’s physiology, Sehun had made some minor tweaks to the designs he had.
"What about this one?" Sehun held up a card with a cat mouth. Lu Han responded by picking up Sehun's piping hot cappuccino and preparing to tip it over on Sehun's hand.
"Okay, okay!" Sehun acquiesced, laughing and quickly holding up the next card. "What about this?" This card had a line with a slight crinkle in the middle. Lu Han paused, then held his hand out flat, palm down, and teetered it back and forth. His "kinda maybe" motion again. So Sehun put the card in the maybe pile.
At this point Sehun was worried. He didn't have many cards left in the pile and, so far, there weren't any mouths that Lu Han seemed terribly interested in. That is, until he held up the next card.
Lu Han stood up and began frantically pointing at the card the moment Sehun presented it. Floored by the enthusiastic reaction, Sehun flipped the card around to take a look at it himself and had to keep himself from raising an eyebrow. This had been one of the cards he put in as a joke. In retrospect, the mouth on the paper was indeed very petite and doll like, though the main feature of this mouth was the pair of plush lips tinged red that came with it. They weren't really that cartoony or exaggerated per se... just... Sehun wasn't expecting this out of Lu Han.
"You want this one?" Sehun asked, tilting his head to the side.
Lu Han nodded.
Sehun pushed Lu Han's pen and notepad closer to him, "Uh, are there any adjustments you want me to make to it?"
Lu Han shook his head.
"It's fine as is?"
For the first time, Sehun saw Lu Han smile. Flustered, he grabbed his cappuccino to take a quick gulp. Too late Sehun realised that he neglected to cover the hole in his face. He shut his eyes and braced himself for a mortifying experience brought on by hot coffee pouring out of his cheek and making a mess.
Unexpectedly, humiliation came from forgetting to swallow. Sehun opened his eyes to find Lu Han covering the hole with his right hand, the cloth hand, and smiling sweetly at him.
“Won’t it stain?” Sehun asked after he had finished spluttering and making a general fool of himself.
Lu Han just beamed at him. Before Sehun recovered from his daze, Lu Han tugged his sleeve then held Sehun’s blade to the area where his mouth parting was supposed to be. That didn’t help Sehun recover. He hadn’t expected that this moment would creep up on him so fast. That it would be after hours in a tiny cafe with the sun setting outside. This was it.
“You’re absolutely certain?” Sehun asked, no take-backs after all. In response Lu Han stuffed the blade handle into Sehun’s hand.
Here goes nothing. Sehun pulled his chair up next to Lu Han’s chair. With the blade in his hand, he felt more like a common killer than someone ready to mend but he quickly dispelled the thought. That was not the mindset of a successful healer. Cupping Lu Han’s jaw with his left hand, he ran his thumb along Lu Han’s mouth in an attempt to find the seam where his lips should be.
You’re sure? he wanted to ask, You’re sure you’re sure? Absolutely certain? Sehun had only remembered how to make a stitch days before. Who knew how good he had been at sewing while he was alive? He couldn’t be the most qualified person to do this for Lu Han, and yet he was all the town had.
Maybe it was Sehun projecting his thoughts but the sharp glance that Lu Han was giving him seemed to broadcast, “Ask me if I’m certain one more time and I’ll cut you.” So Sehun swallowed those worries. “Here?” he asked, pushing down on where he assumed the corner of Lu Han’s lip was, “Is this where it starts?”
“Nn.” The sound was so soft Sehun thought it was a figment of his imagination. It hadn’t even occurred to him to ask if Lu Han had a voice box.
Deep breath in, deep breath out. Hand still, Sehun kept a firm grip on Lu Han’s jaw while he pressed the knife against the burlap. The edge of the blade wasn’t sharp enough for it to sink through the fabric on its own, so he began making minute sawing motions. Sehun was sure that he had to be more scared than Lu Han was.
The knife clanked against something, and Sehun saw a sliver of white winking back at him through split burlap. Boldened by the progress, he went on. Making small slicing motions and watching as more and more of Lu Han’s front teeth were revealed. Another quiet sound came from Lu Han and Sehun took that as his cue to stop.
After confirming with Lu Han that he had indeed stopped where his premade mouth ended, Sehun moved back to get an overall glance of the doll’s face. Already this was proving far easier than he had thought it would be. Sewing a new mouth for a doll that had been mute since its birth, that is. In the end Sehun’s nerves proved to be his greatest enemy. Sewing wasn’t rocket science or brain surgery. Moulds creating the shape of Lu Han’s lips were already in place.
Lu Han squirmed some, and Sehun tightened his grip accordingly. “Shh. Nearly done. This is going to be a lot easier than I thought.” He along Lu Han’s jaw with a finger in an attempt to be reassuring. “But in the meantime try to hold still okay? It can become not easy very fast.”
As Lu Han settled down, Sehun retrieved his needle and string. Mending Lu Han’s lips would be slightly more difficult. He hadn’t really practised making small neat stitches. This time he prompted Lu Han to keep his mouth open and his head tilted back. In this new position Sehun could see a small pink patch that had been darned onto Lu Han’s red velvet tongue; charming.
The cloth around Lu Han’s mouth hung in flaps after Sehun made the incision. Starting with the top lip, he folded the cloth over the lip mould, chanting prayers in his mind all along as he hemmed the edge of the flap on the inside of Lu Han’s lip.
Right as he finished the top lip the sound of what had to be a bear dying came from behind Sehun. Lu Han grabbed his shoulder before he could turn around.
“You cut his face!” Yifan accused.
“Fixing,” Sehun mumbled through grit teeth. Determined not to let Yifan distract him, Sehun moved his hand down to the bottom flap and folded it over the mould for the lower lip.
“I know what I’m doing,” Sehun said with a conviction that was slowly establishing itself. Yifan, the “Doll Police” as Sehun thought of him, had walked over and like a mother hawk he was watching them too close for Sehun’s comfort. In turn Sehun slowed his movements. It would be a shame if he made a mistake due to being frazzled by some third party.
Yifan hmphed then walked two steps back, satisfied with the show he made of inspecting Sehun. “Do you want a cappuccino?”
No longer under the magnifying glass, Sehun returned to darning Lu Han’s lip at normal speed. “Nah. Why is it always a cappuccino though?” Ever since he had arrived, he had been able to try a variety of food at the cafe but the drink that came with it was always a cappuccino. “You know how to brew other blends right?” he added with a hint of smarm, uttering a curse when he accidentally poked himself with the needle. Served him right.
“Of course,” Yifan’s voice came from behind the counter. “You just look like a guy who needs a little something to take the bitter edge off.”
“Tch.” By now Sehun had finished hemming Lu Han’s lips so that there was no loose cloth hanging about. Currently he was sewing over the lip moulds with the thread. Lu Han’s design choice, not his.
“I think Lu Han’s kind of like that,” Yifan chimed with a hint of smarm that Sehun was certain he wasn’t imagining. “I think he takes the edge off of you.”
The only indication that Sehun heard what Yifan said lay in the slight tinge in his cheeks. Now that Sehun had finished with outlining Lu Han’s lips, it was time for the final touch. Rummaging in the pocket of his fatigues, he pulled out the tube of lipstick from the makeup kit he found in his room. “This is what I used to colour the drawing,” he explained to Lu Han. “Do you want this?”
For all intents and purposes Lu Han’s mouth was completely functional now, however instead of voicing an affirmative he still chose to nod.
“Right then.” Sehun held Lu Han’s chin as he lightly applied the rouge. Just a bit though; he liked it subtle. He stopped when there was just a hint of red. “Can you smack your lips for me? Like this.” He demonstrated the motion, trying to keep from laughing as Lu Han attempted to mimic him.
“And… Done. Yifan, do you have a mirror?”
Ah. Vampire, right, Sehun remembered as Yifan shot him a dark look. Sehun pondered their options for a moment. What could be used for a mirror…
Sehun snapped his fingers, “Do you want to go to my cabin?”
All along the silent walk back to Sehun’s cabin, he felt his anxiety prickling along the top of his scalp and his fingertips. Lu Han hadn’t made any attempts at conversation, and it seemed too pushy to ask him about it. Arriving at the lake, they walked up to the dodgy dock made of rotten wood. Sehun strode up to the end and sat down, Lu Han following his example soon after.
The lake had a tranquillity about it. The sun had shone bright when he first walked into the cafe to meet Lu Han. Now it cast deep red streaks across the sky, the air still warm. While the silence still hung around them it wasn’t nearly as awkward as during the walk.
Sehun caught Lu Han’s eye and waved his arm toward the water, encouraging him to check his reflection. Lu Han accordingly rolled off his bum and crawled to the edge of the dock.
Leaning back on his elbows, Sehun smiled as he heard a quiet, croaky “Ah!” come from Lu Han.
“Won’t you try to talk, at least?” Sehun drawled, still leaning back. “I’m dying to hear what you sound like.”
“You are dead,” Lu Han rasped, still bent over the edge of the dock. His voice reminded Sehun of his own from when he first woke up.
He laughed. “Don’t go too far over the edge okay? Be careful.” Somehow Sehun thought that Lu Han would be babbling like a brook after getting his mouth fixed, though it didn’t surprise him that Lu Han chose to maintain silence.
At Sehun’s heeding, Lu Han crawled back over and plopped down next to Sehun. “Thank you.”
“N-no problem,” Sehun flushed; it felt a bit trite to say. “How is it? Is there anything that needs to be adjusted?”
Lu Han shook his head.
Sehun crossed his arms behind his head then lay back completely. Meanwhile Lu Han mostly busied himself with opening and closing his mouth, sometimes stuffing his fingers inside. The only sounds were the birds and the occasional jingle of the bell on Lu Han’s neck, reattached earlier that day in the cafe.
“Hey,” Sehun said, interrupting the quiet stretch. “How come you were wandering around alone in the forest that one time?”
Ever since he had found Lu Han torn apart in the forest the question had been on his mind. According to Yifan, Lu Han wasn’t allowed to wander around unsupervised, and then according to the villagers, there was a great fear among the people of wandering too far into the forest.
Overbearing silence reigned as usual, so long that Sehun didn’t think he was going to get an answer.
“I wanted to go home.”
Sehun raised an eyebrow. He was under the impression that Lu Han lived in the cafe, though that didn’t explain where he came from. “Don’t things kind of get odd in the forest though? Something about a boundary and all of us dying for good if we cross it?”
“No.” Lu Han’s voice slowly became steadier. “I came from here. I was the first. Home is inside the boundary.”
If Lu Han was the first resident of Halloweenland, then Sehun trusted his judgement. That gave him another idea.
“Do you want to go there? Right now?”
Perhaps that wasn’t the right thing to say, Sehun thought after seeing how Lu Han tensed. Though after a few moments, his shoulders slackened and the only indicator of his intentions was a certain look to his eyes while they lingered on Sehun.
Lu Han nodded.
The sun had been a deep red when they entered the woods, and when they emerged it had already set. Perception of time always got a bit unreliable and weird in the wilderness.
Thankfully Sehun and Lu Han’s trip went better than Lu Han’s last foray into the woods. After the trees had thinned out, Sehun had been astounded to find a large desolate stretch of ground void of… Anything, really. It appeared to have been charred in the past. There were a few craters, and he came to the conclusion that Halloweenland really was on the edge of civilisation.
“Here,” Lu Han sang. His voice had evened out over the walk. Unlike the walk to the lake, Lu Han had spent the walk through the woods singing along with the birds. There were difficulties at first, his voice had cracked, and sometimes there had been hacking fits, but all in all he had probably regained his voice faster than Sehun.
Sehun followed Lu Han to the one structure still standing, a shoddy old building in the shape of a generic house. It didn’t look nearly as eloquent as the quaint structures in Halloweenland. Lu Han eagerly bounded up the steps into the structure and, upon following him, Sehun found the inside to be far less eloquent as well. Even in comparison to his own humble cabin.
Inside was suffocatingly cramped. On the outside it looked like a house for a family of four. Clearly more than four people had lived in the house when it was still in use. The interior was divided into eight sections, and a long corridor. Sehun had the impression the house wasn’t used for conventional habitation. Each section had six tiny bunk beds arranged into two columns with only a curtain for privacy. Lu Han dragged him to the one at the end of the corridor to the left.
“Here. This is where I woke up.” Lu Han pointed to the bottom bunk on the right and Sehun moved closer. Each bed still had little personal artefacts from the inhabitants. Sehun saw a stuffed bear on the adjacent bunk on the top, and racy magazines on the adjacent bunk on the bottom. For Lu Han’s bunk it was something more familiar: a large sewing kit in a small rectangular case, and a journal.
“You lived here?” Sehun asked, opening the case. Though it was beat up it was very well assembled, spools with thread of every shade, scissors, anything the sewing enthusiast could want.
“No, He lived here. This place isn’t quite home home, but I think it’s the closest I can get.” Lu Han plopped down on the bed and hugged the pillow to his chest. According to everyone around him “home” was a place you belonged. Unfortunately, the only place Lu Han felt he belonged was in His hands.
“He?” Sehun inquired.
“The one who made me.” Lu Han then pointed to the leather bound journal. “That’s His book. He drew pictures of me.” Somehow the fondness in Lu Han’s tone annoyed Sehun as he reached for the journal.
“I can’t read it at all though,” Lu Han said with a pout.
Well, Sehun thought that was very odd considering he could read it perfectly fine. He flipped through the pages, picking up words as he went through Lu Han, doll, war…
“Oh! It’s dark out!”
Sehun hurriedly closed the journal and stuffed it back to where it was. It seemed Lu Han had not noticed him examining the journal.
“We better go. I think Baekhyun’s going to transform soon,” Lu Han said in a hushed tone, panic evident in the way his voice quivered and how he cupped his face.
Sehun shushed him, then took his hand. “We’ll be fine.”
Sehun didn’t really understand Lu Han. From Lu Han’s “home” they walked through the moonlit forest, holding hands with their fingers interlaced. Perhaps that was incorrect. It was more like he didn’t understand why Lu Han. Why it was him. From the moment he saw Lu Han he couldn’t leave him alone. It wasn’t a phase, it wouldn’t blow over. Lu Han was not a puzzle for him to solve.
So what was the attraction?
They walked all the way back to the cafe and now stood before the door, and Sehun couldn’t believe the night would be over just like that.
“The stars are nice tonight,” Sehun blurted out. He felt stupid immediately afterward but he could have done worse. The stars were really nice in the clear October sky.
Lu Han cast his glassy eyes up. He looked even more like a doll in the dim lighting, his eyes could have been buttons--he could have been entirely made of rags, and Sehun wouldn’t mind.
“Oh.” The doll seemed puzzled. “Oh um… They’re bright.”
Well that topic exhausted itself quick. Sehun held both of Lu Han’s hands in his; one of them he could feel purple cloth scratching against his fingers, and the other was smooth, but both very chilly.
The doll looked up at him, large glassy eyes unblinking.
“Lu Han, I like you.”
Nothing, no blinking, not even a breath.
Sehun let out a shaky sigh, “Lu Han.” He gripped the doll’s hands tighter. “I li-love you.”
Three seconds, a minute. Somehow the time that elapsed seemed too long yet too short.
“Pardon?” Sehun raised an eyebrow. His heart tightened up. It wasn’t that he was confident he was going to receive a yes, he just wasn’t expecting only a “no.” No what?
“I… No.” Lu Han’s face was blank. “It’s genuinely nothing against you. You’re nice, but I can’t.”
Now Sehun was more puzzled than anything.
“This,” Lu Han pressed Sehun’s hand to his chest. “The thing people love with. I don’t have it. You shouldn’t love me. I can’t love you. I can’t love.”
“I… See,” Sehun responded lamely. An unconventional rejection for sure.
He bid Lu Han farewell, and Sehun's body ran on autopilot as he walked back to his cabin alone in the moonlight.
"No," Lu Han said, eyes glassy and blank.
When Sehun repeated the conversation in his head, that "No" sounded like a death knell, welcoming a numbness that took his own heart hostage.
"I can't love."
Why? Sehun wanted to ask. Surely having a heart wasn't that big of a deal. Walking into his cabin he flopped over onto the bed. There was no way he would be able to sleep right now, mind rife with thoughts.
Using the word "love" may have been a mistake. Although Sehun didn't know about Lu Han's "condition" beforehand, he would have been happy with Lu Han just liking him back. That was what he told himself at least. You didn't have to have a heart to like someone after all.
Sehun let out a grand sigh. What bothered him the most was that it wasn't a simple, clear-cut rejection. "I don't love you back" or something of the like, not "I can't love you."
Burying his face into his pillow, Sehun groaned. During the whole conversation with Lu Han he had been too shocked to do anything. The second Lu Han stared at him and said no Sehun's mind went blank. Now it was anything but. What if you did have a heart? Would you love me if you had a heart?Sehun wanted to ask.
Another sigh. He needed to calm down. So what if Lu Han didn't love him as he loved Lu Han? How would things be different? It wasn't like he fixed Lu Han's mouth to win his love. He wouldn't stop visiting him at the cafe or repairing him when he needed it. That's right, Sehun thought, closing his eyes. He would visit Lu Han the next day and hopefully things wouldn't be awkward.
Sehun didn't have any memories of being a terribly determined individual when he was alive. The fact that he barely had any memories at all of being alive was beside the point. Somehow he just didn't see himself as someone who was hellbent on making dreams happen, someone who couldn't take no for an answer.
The next day he still beat himself up over the previous evening’s events. He hadn’t even known Lu Han for a month and here he was, throwing around the word love.
However regret wasn’t one of the many feelings in his emotion bank at the moment.
Less than a month had nothing to do with elation that came over his heart and mind when he spent time with Lu Han.
Sehun strode into the cafe and plopped down at the usual table in the back corner with Lu Han, setting down a rucksack on the table.
Back when Lu Han’s clothing had been torn in the altercation with Baekhyun, Sehun had immediately gone to work trying to come up with an appropriate replacement for the torn clothes. The solution had come in a dusty, navy blue dress uniform that he had found under his bed, only issue being that it was rather large. So, for practice, he hemmed the uniform down to what he hoped was “Lu Han” sized. Sure it would have been wise to ask Lu Han if he could measure him, but that took time.
“Hey,” Sehun said with a smile he didn’t completely feel. “What do you think?”
If Lu Han was surprised to see him he didn’t show it. “Hm?”
Sehun gestured to Lu Han’s now tattered outfit. “It’s a bit uncomfortable now, isn’t it? I tried making something similar.”
Lu Han’s eyes widened, “What? I…” He hugged the clothes to his chest. “You’re far too nice to me.”
Sehun swiped his thumb across Lu Han’s bottom lip then brushed it over his own cheek, making a red line.
Lu Han squawked, “Rude!” His hand immediately darted to his pocket to retrieve the lipstick that Sehun had given him. It only took him seconds to touch up his lip.
Sehun smiled. Lu Han looked very lovely with his new mouth. “Go change. I wanna see if it fits.”
Grabbing the uniform, Lu Han released a little huff as he walked to the back room. As soon as he left Yifan came by, setting a mug down on the table.
“Your caffè mocha,” Yifan announced.
“I thought it was usually a cappuccino.” Sehun looked at the mug, bewildered. Wrong order perhaps?
“Today you look like you need more than “a little” something to take the bitter edge off.”
With that, Yifan left just as fast as he had passed by, while Sehun continued to stare at the mug. There was no way that he looked glum enough for other people to notice…
Looking up from his coffee Sehun had to suppress a laugh at the sight of Lu Han. He had done well in tailoring the uniform, if he did say so himself. Sehun had hemmed the trousers down to a length similar to the dress shorts Lu Han originally had. The top was slightly more elaborate, a white shirt with a black tie under a large navy blazer with gold epaulettes, though instead of the black tie Lu Han had kept his red bow with the bell.
“It looks so handsome!” Lu Han gushed and hugged Sehun. “I forgive you for messing up my lipstick!”
“Handsome,” Sehun thought with a smirk.
Nothing had changed, really. They still joked around, they still theorised about their lives before Halloweenland.
“Oi! Sehun!” Yifan called out as Sehun was on his way out.
Sehun turned around.
Yifan was now standing next to him. “That new mouth you made for Lu Han, it’s really nice. He seems a lot happier now, won’t stop talking.”
“Oh uh…” Sehun didn’t know where this was headed. “It was my pleasure?”
Yifan waved a hand before he could embarrass himself further. “But I think he wants more, you know?”
“Huh?” Anything that Lu Han wanted, Sehun was interested in.
“Lu Han’s the only person in the whole town who’s never been human before, and I think it gets to him a lot.”
Now it just seemed like Yifan was talking nonsense.
“It didn’t bother him so much before but then recently his flesh parts have been coming in a lot faster, and he’s more sensitive about it. Look at his flesh hand. Do you remember where it cuts off at?”
“His wrist right? I’m afraid I don’t follow.” Sehun didn’t know what Yifan was getting at.
“Ah ah, look again.”
Sehun looked over to Lu Han and, sure enough, the cut off was now at the middle of Lu Han’s forearm.
“Maybe you should make him more parts,” Yifan said with a laugh. “It wasn’t like that before he got his new mouth.”
Sehun’s eyes widened and he felt his heart tighten again, this time in a different way. He opened his mouth to question Yifan, but the vampire had already vanished. Strange.
Sehun wasn’t a person hellbent on getting his way, he wasn’t someone who couldn’t take no for an answer.
But that didn’t mean he didn’t like to try.
It wasn’t just that Lu Han didn’t love him, he wasn’t able to.
When Lu Han couldn’t speak, Sehun made him a new mouth.
When Lu Han couldn’t love?
“I told you that he’s a doll. He’s full of fluff, and I don’t have anything for you. An organic heart would just get covered up by fluff and die inside of him,” Kyungsoo said without skipping a beat.
The majority of Kyungsoo’s statements regarding Lu Han could be characterised as him spouting condescending drivel about how Lu Han’s inner workings were far less fascinating than those of humans. In reality, Sehun figured he was probably just bitter over the fact that Lu Han wouldn’t let him check out his flesh parts.
Even while most of what Kyungsoo said was condescending drivel, Sehun occasionally found that he did indeed have gems of wisdom to offer. “An organic heart, you say? What about a non-organic one then?”
“Then what’s the point?” Kyungsoo snapped. “Is this something he put you up to? Why don’t you just cobble together something for him? He’d probably be just as happy with it.”
The next avenue of investigation was where Sehun hit paydirt.
Admittedly it was a bit dodgy, going to the odd structure that Lu Han called home without Lu Han. Since visiting the place there was one thing that bugged Sehun, the journal.
”I brought the journal back to town once,” Lu Han huffed while Sehun went through His sewing kit. “I wrote a whole long explanation about how important it was and asked everyone around town if they could read it for me, and wouldn’t you believe it they all said they couldn’t!”
The guilt ate at Sehun’s gut. Each time they visited the place Lu Han would talk about the journal and Sehun would politely nod while trying to curb the urge to read through the journal. He had played with the idea of translating the journal’s contents to Lu Han, but after some consideration of the author’s privacy he decided against it. Only one man out of a population of fortysome people could decipher the contents--that was a pretty clear sign the author didn’t want everyone to know the contents.
Over the hill and through the woods to the abandoned structure he went, quickly walking up the steps and down the end of the corridor inside. The route was like second nature to him now.
When he would come here with Lu Han he would take his place at the foot of the bed while Lu Han stayed near the head to hug the pillow. So Sehun plopped down at the foot and grabbed the journal that turned out to be a fascinating read.
June 1942: Could there not be some aptitude or personality test for optimal military placement? My uality has already been questioned four times and counting since I arrived, namely due to the perceived effeminacy of my sewing a doll for my younger sister. Surely it would be more cost effective for me to remain with my family at the shop, heroically tailoring clothes to assist the battle on the home front!
The narrative painted the picture of a quiet (and apparently nameless, given the lack of any names) young man born to a family of tailors recently sent off to war. In the beginning the journal didn’t have much regarding Lu Han, whom Sehun learned was born of the little sister’s desire for a “pretty” doll.
August 1942: Small One always wanted to see the progress I made on Lu Han. Perhaps it defeated the point of a surprise but I let her. Refusing her wishes never has and never will be an option for me. Barring that, having her witness Lu Han’s creation allows her to give me input of what she wants him to look like in the end. Unfortunately, due to the shortage of material on the front I had to give him pink hair. However, Small One seemed undeterred, even suggesting that I sew a bell in the centre of the red bow around Lu Han’s neck.
It wasn’t just personal anecdotes in the little journal. Most interesting to Sehun were the increasingly frequent diagrams in the volume detailing how Lu Han was to be constructed. The diagrams were incredibly specific, nary a blank spot was left on each page as arrows and instructions were inscribed all over, what stitches were to be used where, potential materials for certain parts. He was astounded at the sheer volume of love that went into creating Lu Han. There was a firmness that he noted in Lu Han’s limbs, but never in his wildest dreams would he have guessed that “He” (as Lu Han so fondly dubbed him) had created a meticulous skeletal system entirely of polished wood for Lu Han. The wonders didn’t end there as Sehun even came across an entry that detailed how the author acquired ivory for the casting of Lu Han’s teeth.
As the entries went on the diagrams became more frequent. The author spoke less of the war, of his fellow soldiers, and more of Lu Han. Even going so far as to talk about conversations that he had with the doll.
November 1942: I hope Small One will still find Lu Han pretty. Material is scarce, thus his asymmetric appearance. I told him not to worry though, if she doesn’t take him, I will.
The diagrams late into the journal had a fervour to how they were drawn. The lines wavered, as if the artist’s hand had been shaking when writing. The once meticulous labelling had degenerated into nonsense, with some diagrams lacking a label at all.
1942: I had almost forgotten about this journal. The other day I happened upon the one of my fellow recruits and the brigadier general conversing in hushed tones. They want to take Lu Han away, something about the bell around his neck compromising me on the battlefield. What horse. I completed the ritual several nights ago. Any day now, Lu Han will wake up and we can run away together.
And… There was the last entry in the journal. Sehun couldn’t explain the moroseness he felt, knowing that “He” didn’t make it long enough to elope with Lu Han. However the gloom was short-lived. Sehun needed to find clues. At this rate Sehun wouldn’t have been surprised if one of the many untitled diagrams was a plan for a heart. It certainly seemed that the Creator was detail-oriented enough to attempt making a heart. Part of him was surprised that Lu Han didn’t already have one given how smitten the Creator was.
Leafing through the journal proved tedious. Many of the diagrams depicted objects looked alien to Sehun. The sun waned, robbing him of his reading light as he remained in the cramped cell, straining his mind to understand the unlabelled diagrams. Luckily, between the bunk bed columns there was a small bureau with an oil lamp perched on top with a scratched up lighter helpfully beside it.
Sehun found that many of the later diagrams in the journal called for the use of clockwork, currently the highlight of his evening as he worked out that the blueprint he had been staring at for an eternity was for Lu Han’s voice box.
Much much later, when the lamp had almost exhausted its supply of oil and Sehun’s eyes felt dry and raw from hours of reading and thinking, he found his solution.
There was a blueprint right before the last personal entry in the journal that Sehun had kept flipping past. For the most part the blueprint had been smudged and what little labelling it had next to it was tiny. The blueprint itself had a misleading appearance like all of the other drawings. Sehun had assumed it was just an artillery shell or an acorn. However upon further examination, Sehun found a few scribbles detailing a complex clockwork mass that was to go inside of the shell, and brief line instructing that the completed ensemble was to be placed in Lu Han’s chest.
According to the blueprint, the author had already procured the most important piece, and sewed it into Lu Han’s navel for safekeeping.
It wasn’t good to make assumptions, but this was most likely the best lead Sehun was going to get. He passed out on the bunk.
A long week passed before Sehun came back to town. A long week that had been spent readying Lu Han’s heart, after being cooped up for so long Sehun almost felt like a mad man himself, much like the journal’s author.
With a heavily bandaged hand, Sehun knocked on the door to the cafe. Constructing the heart had been… tedious, to say the least. Many of the creations in the journal required a tweaked clockwork assembly to work. Clocks and watches were handily available in the shelter, however the tools required to disassemble them were not. All he had to work with was an array of knives with blades of various shapes and sizes.
Yifan opened the door to the cafe, porting his usual genial smile. However Sehun did pick up a trace of unease on the vampire’s face, something about how tight the smile seemed at the corners. Nonetheless Sehun walked in. His visiting Lu Han fresh after the cafe closed wasn’t an unusual event, however not seeing Lu Han for a week was.
The table in the back corner where Lu Han stared out the window. Sehun set the bag down on the table, feeling the heart brush softly against the walls of the cloth bag. It wasn’t only prying the cogs, sprockets, and gears out of the clocks and watches that did a number on Sehun’s hands. There was the issue of what to house the clockwork mass in. Unlike the Creator, Sehun didn’t have an artillery shell conveniently laying about. Though Sehun felt his solution was far more elegant, more suiting of Lu Han.
“You!” Lu Han nearly screeched, “Where have you been?!”
Lu Han chewed him out while Sehun took it all with a smile, playing with his hand bandages under the table. Instead of an artillery shell he opted for something softer, something that would hopefully be more comfortable in Lu Han’s chest. There was a fair amount of cloth laying around the shelter, so Sehun did what he did best. As a base covering he sewed the cloth over the clockwork mass, making sure that the important parts that required connection, vessels and such, poked out of the cloth. After that he had gone out into the woods to collect the primary material he used for cushioning: roses.
“So really,” Lu Han sighed, “where have you been?”
“Oh, just working and wandering. I haven’t done much of that since coming here. It was fun.”
It was pretty much true. Sehun had spent a lot of time in the woods. Roses were fairly dense, but to create a proper cushion Sehun had to harvest a lot of them. This had been another source of grief for his hands, de-thorning the roses. Sehun didn’t regret a bit of it. One by one he had sewn them to the cloth body of the heart until he had a grapefruit-sized, multi-coloured mass in his hands.
“Do you want to go for a walk?” If Sehun learned anything from the confession, it was that he should lull Lu Han into a state of ease before announcing important information. He was determined to go about things correctly this time.
“Sure!” Lu Han chirped happily.
Uh oh. Sehun didn’t have happy memories associated with that word. This time they stood on the lakeshore by Sehun’s cabin, though the word immediately him back to the memory of standing by the cafe on that moonlit night. He waited for Lu Han to explain himself.
“I apologise. I respectfully decline.”
Sehun thought he had prepared himself for this. He was ready for the possibility that Lu Han wouldn’t love him even if he got the heart, however he wasn’t expecting Lu Han to flat out reject the transplant proposal.
Sehun saw a subtle quaking to Lu Han’s form, maybe there was more to this. He had never seen Lu Han this out of sorts.
“No no… I’m sorry,” Lu Han whimpered. “Y-you’ll have to cut me open to put the heart in and I really don’t want to be cut open.” He clapped his hands to his head and Sehun felt sorry looking at the shaking boy. He embraced Lu Han, but the other didn’t relax at all to his dismay.
“I don’t want to be cut open… No… I don’t want a heart…” Lu Han continued to shake and make pitiful sobbing noises.
It seemed like forever that Sehun stood there holding a shaking Lu Han. Eventually the doll pried himself away.
“I’m sorry.” Lu Han sounded drained. “Please take me home.”
A few more days passed, and Sehun didn’t leave the lakeside at all during that time.
Sehun had been sitting at the edge of the dock with his legs dangling over the side when Chanyeol came to him with a mocha and panini. “Presents,” he added, porting his usual radiant grin.
Sehun gave a wry smile of his own in return, “Does Yifan just assume that I don’t feed myself if I don’t go into the cafe?”
“Pretty much.” Chanyeol set the deliveries by Sehun then joined him in sitting on the edge of the dock. “Lu Han hasn’t been working in the cafe for a few days now.”
Lu Han… Sehun recapped the events of a few days earlier in his head. They had gone for a lovely walk and discussed the Halloween celebration coming at the end of the month. Sehun had remained mostly quiet while Lu Han babbled about how he wanted to sing for the celebration. When they had made it to the lake shore, Sehun had tried to be as genial as possible. Though in retrospect, announcing ”I made you a heart” during a lull in conversation was still fairly alarming.
“How is he? Do you know?”
Chanyeol shook his head. “Yifan’s the only person who’s seen him for days. Say, did Lu Han seem off at all when you both went out the other day?”
Sehun tilted his head. “No. Why?”
This time Chanyeol looked confused. “Huh. I thought he was upset about Kyungsoo but, if he was normal with you, then I suppose not.”
“What happened with Kyungsoo?”
Chanyeol scratched his head and sighed. “Kyungsoo asked him over for testing that day and Lu Han was pretty upset about it.”
“Wait a minute. Since when did Kyungsoo want to test on Lu Han?”
“Since forever,” Chanyeol laughed. “He just gets all pissy whenever you come over because he thinks you’re screwing with results.”
What? This was the first Sehun heard of this. That may have explained Lu Han’s rather… extreme reaction.
Whatever the case, Sehun planned on waiting a few days. He wasn’t sure if he could handle seeing Lu Han at the moment.
Two days of solitude later Sehun witnessed the unexpected: Lu Han sitting alone on the sandy bank near Sehun’s cabin.
He stayed at his desk, watching Lu Han through his window. Sehun’s heart was still smarting over the events of several days before.
Taking a deep breath and holding it for several seconds, Sehun mentally steeled himself. Lu Han didn’t want his love or his heart. No big deal. He still wanted Lu Han’s company, he just needed a moment to compose himself.
Counting to three, he stepped out the cabin door. Sky gloomy and air tense, he padded down to the shore and sat down next to Lu Han.
The tension thickened as they sat next to each other on the sandy bank. Sehun felt as though he was suffocating in his loose t-shirt, like the air was too thick to breathe. If Lu Han noticed his presence he was doing a fine job of not showing it.
Lu Han’s tone was sombre. Sehun didn’t move but he was all ears.
Lu Han swallowed thickly. “Please forget about me.” His voice remained even.
Sehun inhaled sharp enough to feel it pierce his chest. He kept bracing himself for surprises, he kept being surprised. Honestly… Why did he still bother? Sehun his dry lips with his parched tongue. “Why?” he croaked.
Lu Han took Sehun’s hand and began playing with the fingers. “You’ve noticed how I’m becoming more and more real, right?”
“So far I’ve been transitioning wonderfully. As it turns out, He made many things for me and all of them still work.” Lu Han sighed. “Except for a heart.”
He squeezed Sehun’s hand. “A while ago my chest became real too, and that’s when the nightmare started.”
Sehun had a feeling the story was going to get worse.
“Kyungsoo noticed. He was always interested in how my body differed from a natural human’s. So he attempted a transplant.”
Lu Han let go of Sehun’s hand.
“It was unsuccessful.”
Lu Han lay flat on the sand with his arms crossed behind his head. “I’m telling you to forget me because I’m going to die soon. I can’t live without a heart but a replacement heart won’t take.”
Minutes. Hours. Time passed, the world turned, they both remained quiet.
Sehun stood up, and his face and mind were oddly blank. “Come to the cabin.”
There was an uncharacteristic confidence about his movements. Sehun briefly glanced back to make sure Lu Han was following him before brusquely walking back to the cabin.
“Sit on the bed,” he ordered, monotone as he gestured for Lu Han to walk into the cabin first before doing so himself, then closing the door. He quickly fished out a bag from under the bed, and dropped it onto Lu Han’s lap before scooting up so his back was against the wall. Holding his knees to his chest, Sehun looked toward the ceiling, anywhere but Lu Han.
“If you don’t want to see me, fine.” It came out gruffer than he would have liked. Sehun swore he wasn’t angry. “But take that, at least. I don’t have a use for it.”
Perplexed with Sehun’s abrupt coldness, Lu Han opened the bag and gasped.
“Sehun. Sehun look at me.”
Sehun didn’t move.
“Sehun!” Lu Han pushed Sehun’s knees down flat on the bed then sat on them. Sehun still kept his gaze adamantly on the ceiling.
Lu Han sighed. “I care about you Sehun, very very much. I don’t want my passing to come as a surprise to you.”
Sehun continued to ignore him so Lu Han continued, voice almost a whisper, “I didn’t give you the full story earlier.”
He took a breath. “A few days before you woke up, Kyungsoo killed his first creation, the jiangshi, so he could put its heart in me.”
Sehun tensed. He remembered the welcome party, talking about how the jiangshi was missing. He heard the ruffling of clothes, jingling, and cloth ripping.
“Sehun, look at me.”
Lu Han’s voice now had a steely venomous edge to it that Sehun couldn’t ignore. He turned to look at Lu Han and found himself, once again, unprepared.
Lu Han had ripped the top half of his shirt open, exposing a vast expanse of smooth, near translucent flesh. A vast expanse marred by a zipper that extended from the middle of his collarbones to the middle of his navel where the flesh blended back into cloth. The zipper had been crudely stapled into the flesh.
“This,” Lu Han pointed to the zipper, “is Kyungsoo’s work. If the first heart didn’t work, he intended to kill Chanyeol for a second try. The zipper was for easy access.”
Sehun placed his hands on Lu Han’s shoulders. Lu Han let them stay. “He had to break my sternum apart before he could get to where my heart was supposed to be. When he put in Zitao’s heart my body rejected it instantly.”
Sehun was shaking now.
“No anaesthetic works on my body.” Lu Han grinned crookedly. “I would have rather died heartless than go through that again.”
Sehun looked down. As a doll Lu Han didn’t weigh much, however currently Sehun felt the pressure of Lu Han sitting on his legs was crushing him.
“But,” Lu Han whispered in a far softer tone. “There’s something about being in your hands I can’t describe.” He picked up the heart Sehun made, admiring the floral exterior. “And if I had it my way, I would accept your beautiful heart and love you back.” He lifted up one of Sehun’s hands and placed the heart into his palm.
“So, I want you to put it in.”
Sehun’s reaction was immediate. “Absolutely not!” He nearly dropped the heart in shock. “I’m not--I’m nowhere near qualified. I can sew but that’s--”
Lu Han titled his head and beamed. “Either you put it in, or no one puts it in.”
Sehun shut up. Neither prospect was appealing. If nothing happened, Lu Han was apparently going to die but the other option was…
“You only have to know how to sew,” Lu Han supplied nonchalantly. “You see these bits sticking out?” He pointed toward the veins protruding through the flower covering, “All you have to do is suture those to the corresponding parts inside me.”
Sehun wanted to scream at how calmly Lu Han explained the procedure. “Lu… Lu Han it’s going to hurt,” he said weakly.
“You or nothing,” Lu Han said with a smile.
There were many reasons that Sehun could think of why he shouldn’t be the one to do this: it might not work, he might make Lu Han hurt worse. “Lu Han,” he rasped, voice thick with too many emotions to name. “What do you want?”
“I want to be real, Sehun.” Lu Han said with a hint of pleading, a hint of exasperation. “But only if you’re the one who makes me real.”
“There’s one thing I want first.” Sehun squeezed Lu Han’s shoulders tighter. His hands were now cold and clammy after hearing Lu Han’s story; he hoped it didn’t feel unpleasant on Lu Han’s left shoulder.
Slowly, Sehun moved his hands along Lu Han’s skin, feeling the contrast between Lu Han’s smooth left shoulder and the slight scratchiness of his right shoulder. Sehun moved his hands closer and closer to the centre, tracing his thumbs along Lu Han’s collarbones. Lu Han’s neck was composed of purple and white argyle patterned fabric. Sehun’s mind was on autopilot as he slid his palms up Lu Han’s neck just to feel.
Lu Han’s eyes were closed and his head was tilted back. Sehun hoped that was a safe indicator that the doll wasn’t weirded out by his odd ritual. He then cupped Lu Han’s face, using his thumbs to along the horizontal seam on Lu Han’s face that divided flesh from fabric, then trailing one over Lu Han’s bottom lip. There he lingered, pushing slightly and finding that he could barely feel the thread he used to emphasise Lu Han’s lips in the first place.
According to the journal, the Creator had used pink yarn for Lu Han’s hair. Sehun slid his fingers up to tangle in Lu Han’s hair and lightly scratched along the scalp. He couldn’t imagine that it was ever pink yarn. All he found were delightfully soft curls that shined a deep pink. Lu Han purred at the treatment, and Sehun allowed himself a small smile.
“This is the most I can offer for a painkiller, I’m afraid,” he said quietly, more to himself than to Lu Han, though he caught Lu Han’s shoulders quaking in laughter.
Without further ado he pulled Lu Han flush against his body and kissed him. There was no reciprocation, however Lu Han wasn’t tense like the other times he held him so overall Sehun took it as an improvement. Just a press of the lips while Sehun tried to memorise everything important such as the heat of Lu Han’s chest against his body that wasn’t present anywhere else, what limbs were what colour… Sehun had to memorise it all, lest he couldn’t later.
“Now? You really want me to do it now?”
“Why not? Do you have other engagements?”
In the fairy tales Sehun recalled reading when he was alive, the usual agents of healing were true love, a kiss, magic, and other such things.
When he had woken up in Halloweenland he felt like he was in a fairy tale, everyone he had met was certainly enough of a character to be in a fairy tale.
If that was the case, Sehun was sure this had to be the most hardcore fairy tale ever.
With his hands wrist-deep in Lu Han’s chest cavity while Lu Han shrieked bloody murder under him, Sehun found it difficult to believe what he was doing was for Lu Han’s good.
Preparation had gone by with Sehun holding his silence while Lu Han gave him commands: take his shirt off, tie him to the bed, and so on. When all was said and done, Sehun stood by the bed, staring at the long zipper on Lu Han’s chest.
Hours passed of Lu Han thrashing and screaming as Sehun grit his jaw while he sutured the vessels on the heart in the appropriate places.
“I’m sorry,” Sehun mumbled, “I’m so sorry.”
He wasn’t sure if Lu Han was even coherent. All he did was wail and convulse, and Sehun swallowed his apologies and braved on.
Then, at long last, at long long last, it was over. The relevant vessels on the heart had been attached properly while Sehun stood there, hands red and slippery. All that was left was to zip Lu Han’s chest back up and turn the winder in the heart three times.
“Lu Han.” Sehun wiped one of his hands on his trousers then wiped some sweat from his forehead. “It’s over.”
Lu Han’s fringe was plastered to his forehead from sweat. With the same hand that Sehun had wiped on his trousers he brushed the hair out of Lu Han’s flushed face. He wondered if Lu Han was okay. The doll’s eyes were shining, and his pupils large. It seemed like he was fighting just to breathe with how his body shook as he gasped for air.
Sehun bent down next to Lu Han’s ear. “Shhhhh.”
Akin to a candle being extinguished in slow motion, Lu Han’s chest evened out into a pattern of slowly rising and falling, and his eyelids drew shut.
And finally, the most important part. When he was sure that Lu Han was fully passed out, Sehun made an incision in the plush part of Lu Han’s navel, right under the belly button. Within moments he found what the creator had already accounted for: the winder, and a little something extra. Sehun placed the mystery object to the side, then quickly plucked out the winder and sewed the incision back up.
His hands were trembling now, and Sehun quietly reprimanded himself. He made it through several hours worth of sewing Lu Han’s heart in--winding up the heart should be nothing. Although something about the thought of sticking something directly into Lu Han’s heart spread a fear deep in his being. He shouldn’t have been the one doing this; it should have been the creator.
Sehun inhaled deep, then slowly let the air out.
A small clinking sound as he inserted the winder.
Clicking as he turned it three times.
A quick zip! as he closed Lu Han up.
tick tick tick…
Pitch dark, much to the dismay of the people of the town. Usually on Halloween there was a large round moon that was great at setting the tone for the festivities.
That was according to the townsfolk anyway. Sehun sat on the lakeshore, bitter and alone, organising his fishing spoils. Everyone had insisted that, since he was new in the town, he was only to sit back and enjoy the festivities, leaving him with nothing to do for the day. He didn't remember a time before Lu Han. Sehun told himself that it made sense that he felt a little lost without him.
Putting down his rod, Sehun looked up to find the two witch girls staring at him.
"We can't find Lulu," the one on the left spoke first. Sehun tried to remember whether this one was Soojung or Jinri. Even with how often they bothered him, Sehun had yet to remember which was which.
The right one piped up, "We need him for our puppet show tonight!"
"He's been missing for quite some time now." Dropping her voice even lower she went on, "It's just like when Zitao went missing, and he still hasn't come back! What if they were taken by the same person?"
Sehun felt a headache coming on. There were the creepy girls that came in pairs, and then there was Soojung and Jinri. Fomenting unrest seemed to be a casual hobby for them.
"You have to help us, Sehun! Uncle Yifan won't tell us anything."
What makes you think I'll tell you anything?
Sehun sighed. "Uh... Sure. Let's go." Realistically, the girls probably wielded more power than Joonmyeon, and Sehun didn't want to be on their bad side.
It turned out that he didn’t even need to say anything. The two witch girls did all the talking as they dragged Sehun to Town Centre. The experience was oddly reminiscent of when Sehun had first come to town, quietly listening to the babbling of others while he got a feel for the place. That time the town was also preparing for a celebration.
Conversation consisted of increasingly grim theories as to what happened to Lu Han while Sehun listened on, amused, but he held his silence. It was fun hearing what they thought when he know the truth.
They arrived at the cafe, somewhere Sehun had not visited for a while, though he couldn’t stay away for long he supposed. The second they stepped in, Yifan was upon him.
“Go upstairs. I’ll deal with them,” Yifan said quickly.
Dimly, Sehun heard the girls screeching, “No fair!” from below. Grateful, he gave Yifan a quick nod before going behind the counter and walking up the stairs. Yifan lived downstairs in a crypt below the cafe, and the single cell upstairs was for tenants. Well… Tenant.
Before he even had the door at the top of the stairs properly opened there was a loud squeal of “Sehunnie!” and he abruptly had his arms full of happy doll.
“I missed you so much!” Lu Han chirped while nuzzling his chest and it took Sehun a second to recover from the shock. He wasn’t used to Lu Han being so affectionate. A far cry from how he was before the procedure. Not that Sehun minded, of course.
“Oh! There’s something new on your necklace!” Lu Han chirped when his head nudged against something small and hard under Sehun’s shirt. “Lemme see!” He made grabby hands toward Sehun.
“Hello to you too, darling,” Sehun whispered, tactfully dodging Lu Han’s hands while craning his head down to press his ear against Lu Han’s chest.
Lu Han giggled, forgetting all about Sehun’s necklace. “Is Sehunnie looking for a baby? What are you doing?”
“Shhh, not yet.” Sehun pulled away when he was satisfied that Lu Han’s heart was still ticking properly. “Is everything okay?” he asked quietly, taking Lu Han’s hands in his own, “Does it hurt?” He absently rubbed circles on the back of Lu Han’s hands.
“I already told you my body accepted the heart!” Lu Han said with a laugh, pressing himself closer to Sehun, “With the last heart, it hurt so bad when Kyungsoo finished attaching everything. It was really obvious that my body didn’t accept it, you don’t have to worry.”
Sehun moved them until they were sitting on the bed, though even then somehow Lu Han found a way to wiggle himself onto Sehun’s lap.
“Do you need to be wound up again?” he asked while Lu Han’s sides. In Sehun’s opinion, Lu Han should have been the one to keep his winder, it just made sense that way. However Lu Han had insisted that Sehun keep it, so the winder stayed on a chain around his neck.
“I’m fine,” Lu Han trilled.
The conversation died out until a few minutes later when Sehun heard Yifan downstairs, trying to talk the girls out of doing a puppet show. At the sound of the girls’ voices Lu Han huddled closer to his side.
“How come you’re hiding up here, anyway?”
Sehun couldn’t quite catch what Lu Han mumbled. “You don’t want to be in their performance?”
“It’s not quite that…”
Lu Han stood up and gripped the hem of the jumper Sehun had knitted. While Lu Han was still recuperating, Sehun had found a relevant book in the shelter at the edge of the woods. Knitting was a far cry from sewing but seeing how happy Lu Han had been in the jumper made it worth the effort.
Pulling off the jumper, Lu Han stretched his arms out, and Sehun ran his hands along them in awe. Both were flesh, and nearly Lu Han’s whole torso was human now, save for his navel where Sehun extracted the winder from.
“I can’t be their puppet anymore,” Lu Han murmured with an air of solemnity. “There’ll be damage if they string me up like they did before.”
“Did you tell them this?” Sehun asked as he helped Lu Han put the jumper back on.
“I told Joonmyeon so I don’t have to do the festival this year.” Lu Han popped his head through the neck hole of the jumper. “I’m still transitioning so I don’t want to tell everyone.” Leaning back on Sehun, he remembered the necklace. “Your necklace! Gimme!”
Sehun tensed. Without a word he lifted the chain off his neck and passed it to Lu Han.
Lu Han examined the winder first: a small flat metal piece that made his heart beat. It was immensely special when Sehun used it to start his heart, but otherwise unremarkable. The next item on the necklace was more interesting however…
“A lighter? Oh, it says something on it!”
There had been another item along with the winder sewn into Lu Han’s navel. It was a beat up silver zippo.
“Where did you get it from, Sehunnie?”
Sehun bit the side of his cheek. “Just found it while I was wandering around the lake,” he lied. Hopefully Lu Han would bore of the lighter in the next few seconds. He couldn’t explain why he didn’t want Lu Han messing with it.
“The writing on the back looks like His! Can you read it?”
Sehun bit down harder. “No.”
“Oh that’s too bad,” Lu Han pouted. He turned the lighter around several times in his hands, “Would… Would it be okay if I had this?”
Sehun shut his eyes and thought about it. Technically it belonged to Lu Han he supposed. He had found it in Lu Han’s navel.
And the likelihood of him deciphering the inscription was low.
“Sure,” Sehun relented. Unclasping the chain, he removed the lighter and gave it to Lu Han, who squealed in glee. He watched as Lu Han ran his thumb over the lighter’s inscription over and over.
To the best little sister in the world. I hope your pretty doll finds you well. I’m sorry I couldn’t. -- O.S.
Sehun would never forget the image of the words winking at him from between Lu Han’s fingers.