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Chapter 16 – In Which D.O. Makes Flour Displays

Deer Luhan,

I heard somewhere that EXO has a reputation for eating and that D.O. has a reputation for cooking.  Well, actually, I can verify both of those for myself, but food fights?  Why do we never hear about the food fights?

Leigh

I ended up in an army base.  I have absolutely no idea what kind of sob-story Ryan fed his commander-in-chief to let me in there, but I happily surrendered Luhan’s phone – my only item of electronics – at the gates and joined Ryan and a couple of his army mates at the cafeteria for a meal.  Ryan was still the best part of a day behind because of the time difference, so we stayed up all night chatting and I eventually ended up explaining the whole ridiculous situation of my being in Korea to him.

“You’re posing as a member of Abbie’s favourite K-pop group and she doesn’t know?” Ryan said.  “Dude, that’s crazy.”

“Yeah,” I murmured.  “It’s driving me nuts.”

“So have you met… what was his name again, Kai or something like that?  Dancer?  Abbie won’t shut up about him.”

“He’s one of the ones who knows I’m a girl.”

Ryan grinned and offered me a fourth cup of coffee, which I gratefully accepted.  “Mental.”

“He’s really nice,” I mumbled, cradling the coffee cup in my hands.  My eyelids were drooping in spite of the amount of caffeine I’d consumed over the past couple of hours.  “Just don’t tell Abbie.  I don’t want her to know she’s got the phone number of a K-pop star right now.  I don’t think any of them would really appreciate it.”

“Sure,” said Ryan.  “What’s it like being surrounded by fans all the time?”

I tilted my head to one side.  “You get used to it, but I wish they’d stop taking photos the entire time.  There’s no privacy.  They don’t even ask if it’s okay.”

“What, like, all the time?”

“Yeah.  First couple of days here, I went to buy some toothpaste from the pharmacy.  It was like being attacked by lightning all the way down the street.”

Ryan thought for a bit, and then got up to root in his backpack and toss me a couple of small black objects.  I caught them before they plopped into my coffee cup and looked at them.

“What are these?”

“Small EMP devices.  Make sure your own electronic equipment is off before you use them, but if you find yourself getting annoyed by fans again, just press the little button on the side and it’ll muck up the electric currents of those nearest to you.”

I smiled tiredly at him.  “Thanks.  I really appreciate this.”

He waved an airy hand.  “No worries.  Hey, look, you’re knackered.  Get some sleep.  I’ll wake you up in about eight hours’ time.”

I got up in time for lunch and spent a few hours playing card games with Ryan and some off-duty soldiers before one of the commanders approached and took Ryan aside for a private word.  At first, I thought nothing of it: I was creaming the other players at Poker, and it was relaxing to be in an English-speaking environment again.  It was making me realise just how homesick I’d been and just how much I’d been craving some home comforts.  That and there was familiar food and chocolate, and they were all talking about how they were going to be having a proper Christmas dinner the next day.  I’d totally forgotten it was Christmas Eve – normally, at home, we’d be doing things like decorating the tree and wrapping presents – but there hadn’t really been a Christmas buzz of any kind around the dorm.  And in the army camp, there were people wandering around with Santa hats and chasing each other with mistletoe, and I even saw one guy with tinsel tied around the barrel of his gun.

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