Sehun enrolls on his 20th birthday.
Being a Recruit is hard work, much more physical than working at the assembly line. In addition to sometimes doing ten-hour-long shifts, all Recruits have mandatory training sessions five days a week. They practice combat and handling guns, improve their physical condition and fitness, study military related topics and politics and learn the basics of being a solider. The rules are strict and superiors unforgiving, there isn’t a day the Recruits fall into their beds without feeling exhausted and drained out.
It’s hard work but Sehun endures it. By the time he finishes his training, he’s already promoted to a First Class Private. The workload doesn’t get any easier because the training sessions are replaced with a great quantity of overtime, but it’s not all bad. Because sometimes when he’s working at one of the Border cross points, Sehun has a chance to observe people transferring goods from the other side, and he can see a glimpse from the world beyond the Wall and feel the fresh wind on his face.
The sky always looks so blue there.
“What?” Luhan asks and places away his books when he can’t ignore Sehun’s staring anymore. Lately Luhan’s been spending a lot of time studying for his finals. He’s going to graduate from university soon and become a teacher. Sehun thinks he will be a great one.
“I just want to touch you so bad.”
Right now Luhan’s hair is dyed warm brown and the bangs are styled out of his face. He’s wearing a pair of ripped skinny jeans that hug his thighs and a plain grey t-shirt that reveals just enough of his smooth chest to show off the collarbones. Luhan looks gorgeous as ever, but Sehun’s focus is entirely on the soft looking pink lips that are slightly damp from where the elder licked them unconsciously – a habit most likely picked up from Sehun himself.
Sehun has never wanted anything as much as he wants Luhan right now.
He wants to run his hands on Luhan’s chest and kiss him until they both run out of breath. Sehun wants to hear Luhan moan his name when his mind can’t form coherent thoughts anymore, he wants the man to hold onto him so hard that they can count the bruises left behind.
Sehun has lost count of how many times he has thought about Luhan’s lips and eyes behind closed doors and buried his face into a pillow to suffocate the cries of Luhan’s name as he comes all over his hand. Sehun dreams about Luhan’s arms wrapped around his waist, he dreams about hearing Luhan’s voice first thing in the morning and the last thing on the evening.
Sehun wants to hold Luhan and whisper countless I love yous into his ear, make a trail of sloppy kisses and small bites along Luhan’s neck. He wants to leave behind something concrete, something real. He wants to exist outside the clearing too, he wants to be a part of Luhan when he’s at school, meeting his friends, living his life.
And above all, Sehun wants to tell Luhan all this, everything he’s feeling and dreaming about. But he doesn’t because it’s pointless. Luhan’s there and Sehun’s here.
But maybe Luhan still knows. Because in his eyes, Sehun can see the same pain and longing he sees in his own every time he looks at his reflection.
They are both lying on their sides, facing each other and the Wall in between. It’s getting late and the sun has almost set but neither of them is making an attempt to move.
They have done this a lot lately, when Sehun’s too tired after work and Luhan has an early morning the next day. They just lie as close as possible and look at each other. Sometimes Luhan brings his old books and translates them to Sehun, and other times he sings quietly, lulling the other into much needed sleep. But most of the times they just observe until it gets too dark to see each other.
“They say that home is where heart is,” Sehun whispers so quietly that Luhan almost misses it. The dark rings around Sehun’s eyes are getting more and more prominent and Luhan’s worried. He looks so tired and burned out but what scares Luhan the most is the desperation in his eyes.
“And my home isn’t here.”
Sehun closes his eyes and turns to face the clear sky above so he doesn’t have to see the unshed tears in Luhan’s eyes.
It’s when Sehun is assigned to fill in the Security Patrol that he finally reaches his breaking point.
Being from one of the suburban neighborhoods on the outskirts of the town, he has never seen the real poverty of the area, not until now. The slums the truly poor live in are horrible. There’s no electricity, plumbing or running water. The smell is disgusting, like rotten flesh, and Sehun tries not to think what the source of it is. There are rats and stray dogs everywhere, running wild in the trash and dirt that fill the narrow paths along the huts. It’s hard to believe that someone could live there.
But they do, thousands of them.
There are children circling around them, throwing themselves on the solders and begging. For what? Food, medicine, water, warm clothes; Sehun isn’t so sure. Some of the higher rank Officers hit the children with their weapons when they get too close for comfort and no one even bats an eye.
The adults stay hidden behind locked doors and thin walls, only the most desperate ones come for them. There’s one woman carrying a small girl, three or four years old at most, crying and begging for help. The girl has some sort of infection in her left leg. It’s swollen, green around the edges of the wound and smells like death itself. It could have been cured with simple antibiotics. Antibiotics that none of the people living there could ever afford.
There’s a large fire somewhere on the edges of the area, and when one of the new workers ask their supervisor about it, he tells them not to think about it. Later that night they stroll past the area and see soldiers dumping dead bodies into the flames. Men, women and children, so many children.
After the first night shift Sehun throws up twice.
“I can’t go there anymore, I just can’t,” Sehun whimpers as he walks around in a small circles, running his hands through his hair. “It wasn’t supposed to be like this.” He can feel the anxiety hitting again, like it does after every shift nowadays. He can’t sleep, he can’t eat, he can’t breathe.
“Sehun, calm down,” Luhan tries but it isn’t working, not anymore.
“I was supposed to help people.”
“Everything here is so wrong. There isn’t enough food, the streets are full of kids fighting over a piece of rotten meat. The medical treatment is so expensive no one can afford it. They– they even could have saved mom if…” Sehun’s voice breaks and he finally realizes that he’s crying. “And the rich people sit in their huge houses, living like kings. People are dying and no one cares. No one even knows. We are trapped here, forced to work for someone who doesn’t give a shit about us.”
There’s a small pause when Sehun wipes off his tears and looks at Luhan for the first time that night. His eyes are so full of pain and need that Luhan almost can’t take it. He’s scared, Luhan can see how the world’s breaking Sehun and there’s nothing he can do about it.
“And the worst part is that even if you were here, I still couldn’t touch you like I wanted to.” Sehun reaches his arm, so desperate to touch the other and get some comfort, but instead of warm skin he fingers hit the cold Wall. It sends him flying backwards and Sehun screams and squirms on the ground as the electric current burns him.
“Sehun. Sehun. Sehun!” Luhan panics, frustrated that he isn’t able to help.
Sehun stumbles on his feet when the pain decreases, tears running wild on his cheeks and face twisted in agony. “I can’t do this anymore,” he whispers and shakes his head. Then he turns around and walks off, leaving Luhan there all alone.
“Sehun, come back. Please, don’t do anything stupid, Sehun!” Luhan cries, his hands shaking and legs giving in. “Remember what they did to Jongin’s mother. Please, come back! They’ll kill you.”
But Sehun doesn’t turn around.
“Please, don’t leave me.”
Sehun feels guilty when he goes to see Luhan the next day and the elder can’t quite keep the relief off his face. Sehun can’t break down like that anymore, he has to be strong. For the both of them.
So he tries, and the only things keeping him from going insane are Luhan and the rare tiny slices of blue sky he sees through the gates at work.
It starts like any other night shift when Sehun reports for his Supervising Officer at the eastern Border Crossing Point. The usual faces at the dressing rooms and the all too familiar hallways leading up to the customs halls. It’s going to be a long night, Sehun thinks, already exhausted as he steps in and replaces Kyungsoo on the lineup for the next eight hours.
They are half way done inspecting the first shipments that came in earlier when the Recruit assigned to assist them for the rest of the night calls in sick. Sehun fights urge to groan, as it means more work for the remaining three of them. But no one complains and they only work harder in order to finish up in time.
“Fuck this, I’m taking my break now,” their Leading Officer announces after almost six continuous hours of working and heads to the staff cafeteria, leaving there only Sehun and one Sergeant Class Officer. It’s against the rules as there must always be at least three persons present by the Border gates, but it’s almost 4:00AM and nobody cares enough to stop her from leaving. So they continue prepping things for the next shipment, just the two of them.
When the truck arrives and the gate is opened, the Leading Officer still hasn’t returned but they continue like usual. After the vehicle gets safely inside, the Controller closes the gate and the driver goes to the customs office for basic procedures. No one else seems to notice the slim gap that the steel gate leaves to its concrete frame, but Sehun doesn’t think too much about it. The door has to be manhandled down and he’s not in the mood for any extra work, especially when the next truck is coming in just twenty minutes. Besides, they have filed countless of complaints about the issue but so far no actions have been made to fix it. Sehun isn’t paid enough to care anymore.
“Private Oh,” the Sergeant calls him from the back of the truck.
“Keep an eye on the shipment,” the man orders and jumps off from the truck’s storage space. “There’s something I have to report to the Leading Officer.”
“Yes, sir.” And with that, the Sergeant’s out of the hall.
It takes a minute or two for Sehun to realize that he’s left completely alone in the hall. Apart from the Controller possibly still sitting in his office and the few security cameras, there’s no one watching over him.
Sehun feels his hands start to sweat as he shifts his gaze to the slightly ajar gate, just a few dozen feet away. There’s a small breeze of fresh air coming through, and the feeble light shining from outside draws shadows to the concrete floor. The gap’s not big enough for an adult to crawl through it, they had measured it once when the problem with the door was first noted.
It’s not big enough for a full-grown adult to crawl through, but a scrawny boy could maybe just barely slide himself under it.
Sehun feels his heart beating faster and faster every second as he stares the gate.
A failure would result to an instant death, no trials and no chances to explain. Even if he did succeed, Sehun would never see his family or friends again. He could never walk the familiar streets of his hometown or visit his mother’s grave again. But Sehun thinks about what’s on the other side of the Border. The clear blue sky. Freedom. Luhan.
And maybe it’s worth the gamble.
It takes Sehun less than two seconds to make the decision and another ten to reach the gate. It’s a tight fit and there are bruises and scratches all over his body, but in less than twenty seconds, Sehun’s out in the night, fresh breeze hitting his face. Once he’s back on his feet, Sehun runs into the darkness and never looks back.
Sehun doesn’t stop. He stumbles and falls down just to get up and run faster. He waits for the shot that never comes. He waits for the screams and sirens that never come.
Because in a society where one individual means nothing, no one cares if one of them is missing.
It’s still early when Luhan makes his way to the usual place to meet Sehun, but he hopes to spend the few hours waiting for the younger man by going through some papers. But to his surprise, from further away, Luhan sees Sehun already sleeping in the clearing. A knot in his stomach disappears and Luhan sighs in relief. Nowadays, every time he meets the younger boy he’s scared it could be the last.
But when Luhan gets closer, he notices something strange. Sehun’s not wearing his usual gray clothes, not even his officer’s uniform. Instead, he’s dressed in a bright red hoodie and a pair of too short jeans. As Luhan gets even closer, he notices that Sehun seems clearer than ever before, and the usual pink hue distorting his appearance is gone.
He’s careful when he gets down next to Sehun, as if he’s scared to break the illusion, and with every move Luhan’s heart starts beating more rapidly. His fingers momentarily hover over the boy’s creamy skin, too scared to push his luck, before sliding on his jawline. It feels soft and cool.
Sehun opens his eyes slowly and his eyes focus on Luhan’s face looming over his.
loosely inspired by the book the boy in the striped pyjamas and real life + historical events
not trying to criticize any countries or their politics this is pure fiction okay
thank you for luhan and his song medals for making this happen. i listened that song over 400 times while writing this. on a loop. for month or two. yeah