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Previously on Orange Marmalade: Look At Me

Chapter 1
Chapter 2
Chapter 3
Chapter 4
Chapter 5
Chapter 6
Chapter 7
Chapter 8
Chapter 9
Chapter 10
Chapter 11
Chapter 12
Chapter 13
Chapter 14
Chapter 15
Chapter 16
Chapter 17
Chapter 18

Orange Marmalade: Look At Me
Chapter 19: Of Life and Death

I’m lead through endless halls and my heart keeps racing. I’m not sure how things will end up, whether I’ll walk back to my room, or even out of this place. Perhaps it’ll be an easy procedure and I’ll be fine sooner than anyone expected, or maybe I won’t open my eyes ever again.

My head is full with dark and pessimistic thoughts, and as anyone would, I have many regrets. I regret having caused my parents to sacrifice themselves for me, and then having them back just to leave them again because I couldn’t endure the life I was having. I regret that I lived with so much anger and frustration, so much disappointment in life and society instead of just trying to enjoy my life to the fullest. I regret not even telling Ma Ri my real feelings, although she might suspect, I never really told her how important she is to me.

I’m a vampire, we are supposed to live around one hundred and fifty years, so much more than a human, and I guess I got cocky, I didn’t expect my life would be threatened like this so soon, when it’s not even my choice.

I think I have accepted in my head that this will fail and my only hope is that I’m the only one that won’t survive this. I hope that trying to help me won’t hurt them.

Big doors are opened for us, and I nervously walk in, just to find many other doctors inside, along with my parents, my uncle and Ma Ri. There’s another room, above us, with only windows that allow the people there watch the procedure. There, I spot the president of the VCS and Ma Ri’s parents, waiting in case they are needed, too. Ma Ri looks for my eyes and locks hers with mine, giving me a hopeful and reassuring smile. “It’ll be okay,” she mouthes, but I can’t believe her.

“Mr. Han, please, follow this nurse, she’ll help you get ready for the procedure,” Doctor 2 commands. I don’t even try to protest or anything remotely similar, I just follow instructions because what’s the point in not doing so?

It doesn’t take much to get rid of all my clothes, wash up my whole body and put me in a hideous robe. I’m led back inside the operation room and when I do, there are two stretches set up, one is free for me, the other has Ma Ri, apparently the first to go. I take my place next to her without saying a word, I can’t even look at her because I don’t know what to do or say. How do I say goodbye to her?

Another hand in mine, slender fingers wrapping around mine, giving me a tight squeeze break through my thoughts, making me turn to face her.

“It’ll be okay,” she repeats, smiling at me and squeezing tighter. “When you wake up, everything will be fine. I’ll be right next to you.”

My heart twists, longing and sorrow mixing together, making me feel more nervous than the whole procedure about to take place. The doctors around keep working, preparing everything, but I can only focus on Ma Ri.

“If I don’t wake up…” I start, noticing how she shakes her head, rejecting the idea. “If I don’t wake up, know that you’re the most important thing to me.” Her eyes widen, her lips slightly parting. It’s not a surprise she reacts like that, she’s shocked that I’ve told her she’s more important than even my parents. I should feel ashamed to be saying this, but I can’t. I want to be completely honest in case it’s the last time.

“Han Shi Hoo,” she mutters but now I’m the one shaking my head.

“I know, you don’t need to say anything. I just wanted to say it at least once.” I smile, my heart breaking a bit because it just hurts. I love this girl so much but I know there’s no space for me in her heart, I don’t fit in her life. “Maybe in the next life I’ll have a chance to win your heart and be with you.”

“Han Shi Hoo,” she calls again, her voice breaking a bit, so I close my eyes and look away, just in time to hear the doctors announcing they’ll start now.

Ma Ri squeezes my hand harder and I open my eyes just enough to look at my parents one last time. I can see how nervous they are, how scared, but maybe it’s good if I don’t wake up. They won’t have to worry about me or do something stupid ever again for my sake. They can really start over.

“Count backwards starting wit one hundred, by when you wake up everything will be over.” Although Doctor 2 means my problem will be over because they’ll fix it, I interpret it differently.

Nonetheless, I start counting backwards, feeling my mind drifting as other things are plugged to me. I lose consciously before I stop feeling Ma Ri’s hand in mine.

At first it’s just darkness, but slowly this starts disappearing as light comes in, showing me we’re not in an operation room anymore, I’m not connected to anything. This is a familiar place, streets I’ve walked many times with Ma Ri before. It must be a dream, death can’t be like this.

“Shi Hoo-ah!” Someone calls my name. Turning around, I find Ma Ri running to catch up with me, waving her hand frantically. My brow furrows a bit, confused as to why she smiles so brightly at me. “Why didn’t you wait for me?” she pouts, acting cute, which is such a weird thing and it gives me a bad feeling. “You’re so coldhearted. I just wanted to take a picture of the clouds because they looked so pretty, couldn’t you wait?”

I just shrug, I don’t know why I wouldn’t wait for her, even if it’s to do such a stupid thing. But I don’t get a chance to even try to come up with an excuse when she hooks her arm with mine, pressing herself close, and I just freeze.

“By the way, where are we going today?” Ma Ri asks, not even noticing how her proximity is affecting me. “You said you were taking me somewhere special for my birthday.”

“You’re spending it with me?” I ask, too confused. She should be celebrating that with Jung Jae Min.

“With whom else would I spend it?” She seems utterly confused, looking at me as if I’ve lost my head. “Don’t tell me you forgot about it.”

“Of course not,” I lie. I didn’t even know it was her birthday, I don’t know what’s going on. “But what about your parents?”

“They are happy we’re spending it together. They said we’ve spend many already, and it’s my first birthday I celebrate with you.” She looks down, embarrassed, her cheeks flaming bright. “I don’t care about what we do, I just want to spend it with you.”

Oh… what a sweet dream, I realise. And if this is how I’m going to die, dreaming that Ma Ri is with me, loving me, wanting to be with me, then I can’t think of a better way to part. If this is all I’ll ever get, then I’ll make it count. So I stop and using the momentum of her suddenly jerking back, I pull her in my arms, hugging her tight.

“Happy birthday,” I whisper, closing my eyes as I press my lips to the top of her head. My heart races when I feel her own arms wrapping around my waist, leaning against me, accepting my embrace. “I love you,” I say next, at what she just hugs me tighter, sighing in delight.

I’m expecting a reply, I expect to hear her say she loves me back because this is my dream, but that doesn’t happen. Something pulls her away from me, bringing darkness again.

“HAN SHI HOO!” She screams, I can see her being pulled away, calling my name desperately. “HAN SHI HOO!” She repeats, her voice echoing around me. I try to run after her, catch her hand, but it’s to no avail.

“BAEK MA RI!” I cry out back, but darkness is getting thicker, wrapping around me, suffocating me, reducing me. “MA RI-AH!”

I can’t see anymore, I can’t even feel my body and I don’t know whats going on. I’m scared, petrified because I don’t know where I am, or what’s going on. What’s happening? Am I really dying? But I don’t want to! I know I’ve kind of accepted it, but I don’t want to. I want to see Ma Ri again, even if it’s just in my dream, I want to hear what she has to reply. I want to fight a bit more.

“Ma Ri-ah,” I whine, shivering because this darkness is so cold and deafening. “Ma Ri-ah, I don’t want to leave yet.”

But I’m all alone in this darkness, there’s nothing else but my own thoughts, my own fears tormenting me. If this is death, then this has to be hell. Complete isolation but total consciousness, driving me crazy, pushing me farther but not taking me anywhere. I can’t feel time passing by, but at the same time it feels like an eternity trapped here, or maybe just a heartbeat.

Then I hear something… the strumming of a guitar, soft chords travelling through the darkness and getting to me, bringing something else to focus on, something to hold on. Then I can hear the melody and recognise it as the one Ma Ri played for me before. I hum along, only thinking of that, and it helps. I can feel my hands again, and my feet, then my arms and legs. Slowly, I am conscious of my body again as something separated from the darkness around me.

The melody never stops, and it only calls my name, telling me to leave this place where I don’t belong.

Even slower than before, light comes through, and although I can’t see anything yet, it feels lighter and less suffocating. I can breathe again, I’m not so scared anymore. The melody is louder, clearer, becoming my guiding light right now, bringing me the peace I lost. Like this I can finally rest, I can peacefully close my eyes and stop trembling in fear.

Wherever I was, I leave that place and follow the music until I lose all consciousness. Until there’s nothing, only the melody around me, even when my eyes slowly flutter open again, slowly, tiredly.

It isn’t dark, on the contrary, it’s too bright, but my eyes adjust and I can see objects around me, a defined space that looks too sterile, but the melody is still playing, soothing me.

Until this stops, abruptly, painfully.

“Han Shi Hoo?” a voice asks. I turn, following the voice and its familiarity, just to find Baek Ma Ri next to me. “Thank goodness, you’re awake,” she sighs relieved, stepping even closer, grabbing my hand in hers. “See? I told you, everything would be all right. Welcome back, Shi Hoo-ah.”

This is a work of fiction with no profit intent. All characters and context belong to the rightful writers of the webcomic and drama. This is made by a crazy obsessed fan for other fans who suffer from Second Lead Syndrome.

Bel, xx

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