28.59.The Reputation of Dosa-Mina

The La-Iin Series
Chapter 59
“The Reputation of Dosa-Mina”

“What? San-Kyung’s friend isn’t with him?”
“Something must’ve happened! Maybe San-Kyung got sick of him?”
“I can’t say I blame him. Must be weird having your friend hang all over you all the time.”
‘So they really think it’s that weird?’ Dosa-Mina thought. The students around him were all making a ruckus about the fact that San-Kyung wasn’t with him, saying things he hadn’t payed attention to before.
“Yeah, poor San-Kyung. Maybe he’s just a jerk because all the people who like him are guys.”
“No, there’s that Vampire girl, remember?”
“Yeah, but she’s a little kid!”
He felt like saying something to them, but he couldn’t think of anything, so he didn’t. Instead he just walked on, pretending the things everyone said rolled off his back.
In truth, they didn’t.
“Aw! I like seeing them together!”
“Those weirdos?”
“They aren’t weird!”
“Yes they are! And so are you! You want to see that sort of thing!”
“Hey, don’t judge them. Maybe it’s all they can get.”
“Oh. Right!”
“They care more than I thought,” Dosa-Mina sighed as he walked into the school. Thankfully, once he was inside, the comments died down and he was able to relax a bit.
‘I wonder if anyone I know was making those comments.’
“Hey, you!”
Dosa-Mina stopped. Standing in front of him was La-Iin. He put on his best smile and crouched down.
“If you stay there, everyone’s gonna knock you over until you’re part of the floor!” He chirped.
“I don’t care about that! Answer me, rival-boy.”
“Yes?”
“Why isn’t San-Kyung here today?”
Dosa-Mina felt his smile lessen slightly. He did his best to bring it up to max intensity. “Oh, he got sick. Remember, it’s Winter, and San-Kyung is an Animated Pumpkin. So the cold got to him. This happens sometimes in Winter, and not just to him. My Mom told me she’s sure he’ll give it to his parents.”
“But my wings are exposed all the time and I never get sick.”
“Yes. But you and San-Kyung are two different species. Vampires are a bit hardier. Oh, thank goodness it’s an Animated Pumpkin thing! I can visit San-Kyung and stay as long as he needs. Oh, and the rest of the Molsheis too.”
La-Iin was glaring at him. He made sure his smile didn’t falter.
“Something seems off.”
“Hm? I’m telling the truth.”
“No, it’s not what you said. You seem plastic today.”
“Plastic?”
“Like you’re faking.”
Dosa-Mina blinked. “Faking what?”
“Your attitude. I don’t know. It doesn’t feel right. You’re creeping me out. Never mind. I should get to class or I’ll be late.”
“Right!”

During the first class, Dosa-Mina’s mind was swamped with thoughts.
‘I’m so stressed out. Dammit. All they said earlier is really getting to me. What a reputation. ‘San-Kyung’s clingy friend’. Ha ha…it’s like they don’t even know my name. Well, then again, they’re always talking about how Dslellular is too hard to pronounce…
‘Maybe they’re right. Maybe I am too affectionate. San-Kyung could think I’m terrible. No, wait. He wouldn’t lie about that. I know him. Besides, he used to hate me anyway. And he told me that I embarrass him. So he doesn’t think I’m terrible. I know so.
‘Besides, I’m not always all that affectionate. Maybe if everyone knew the real reason, they’d care more. Or probably not. They’d all just think I was lying. Or maybe not. Arrgh! Why is this so complicated?
‘Maybe I should try and get my reputation changed before San-Kyung comes back. So then people will think differently of me. I could be really nice and helpful. Or maybe I could make my reputation just like San-Kyung’s. People wouldn’t care then. Maybe I should make it look like I’m bullied. No, wait! Not only would that not work, but I’m not going to involve anyone else in this. Oh specites. Is it really so bad that I’m so affectionate towards him!? Maybe if he were more affectionate towards me, things would be different! What kind of reputation would we have then? Or maybe I should tell him to push me away. He’s always so relaxed about it at school. Or maybe I should do something shocking, something so shocking that nobody will care that I’m so affectionate. Maybe if I said I’m not a Normal–
‘NO!
‘That would be completely pointless! Besides, who would believe me? I’d have to show them proof, and you can’t use powers in school. Of course. Besides, they’re probably already suspicious. After all, the teacher asked what my species was in front of the class. Shit. Why’d I have to go and put down question marks. If I had just put down Normal, it would’ve been better. Of course, it’s also the school’s fault. They didn’t ask me to fill it in anyway. Most of them just assumed I was a Normal. But I guess the teacher figured me out. But how? Why? I look nothing like any other species than a Normal. So why? Why?’
“Um, Dosa-Mina? That’s your name, right?”
Dosa-Mina glanced up. “Er, yes.”
“You alright?” Gen-Reiya was standing in front of his desk, Lishe-Ashyo at his side. ‘Their friendship’s never speculated about. Of course, because neither of them are affectionate towards each other. Stupid me.’
“Yes.”
“Are you sure? You sound out-of-it.”
Dosa-Mina smiled. “I’m fine, alright? I was…thinking.”
“Thinking so long history class ended,” Lishe-Ashyo huffed. “Did you actually get any of that?”
“Y…yes.”
“Alright then. Quiz. What was history class about?”
Dosa-Mina swallowed. “Famous lycanthrophes in history?”
“Bzzt!” Dosa-Mina flinched. “You got part of it right, but you have the wrong species. It was about famous people of long-lived species such as Vampires and Groundisers and what goes on in their cases. And ‘lycanthropes’? Are you a species studier? Nobody I talk to normally uses that term!”
“Er…yeah, I guess a little.”
“That’s cool. So, like, are you going to study that in college or something?”
“Maybe?”
“It’s nice to have some sort of goal!” Gen-Reiya said. “Me, all I really want right now is a girlfriend. But I guess I should start thinking about my future too. My parents really want me to, and I doubt Mi-Yagi will at this point…she’ll probably just yell at them about pressuring her.”
“No offense, but…why are you talking to me?” Dosa-Mina asked.
“For one, you were completely spaced out even when class ended.” Lishe-Ashyo said.
“And you looked lonely! You’re always talking to San-Kyung and sometimes I think a bit of his antisocialness rubs off on you.”
“So, what’s he sick with anyway?”
“Um…wilting flu.”
Gen-Reiya blinked. “What the heck is that?”
“It’s a diesease specific to Animated Pumpkins. Basically, their immune system starts to wilt. It’s not so bad for him now, but it can get pretty severe…I’m worried.”
“Other species can’t get that, right!?” Gen-Reiya shrieked.
“No.”
“Oh. Phew!”
“Since it’s specific to Animated Pumpkins, sometimes they’ll quarantine themselves among other species. Other species can’t get the diesease…some can get a variation of it, but they can’t be infected by an Animated Pumpkin since those species have a particular strain that they get, specific to the way their immune system works, that won’t affect other species.”
“You really do know a lot!” Lishe-Ashyo exclaimed. “Man, you could be a professional!”
“With all that knowledge it’s hard to imagine you’re just fourteen!”
“I’ll be fifteen soon enough,” he said. The fact that the two friends were talking to him still confused him.
“Aren’t you guys weirded out by me?”
Lishe-Ashyo blinked. “Why?”
“I mean about what I do with San-Kyung.”
“Well, I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t.” Gen-Reiya admitted. “But who cares? Why should your little…ahem, public displays of affection keep me from talking to you? You aren’t going to hold onto me for dear life, or cuddle up next to me, or…whatever else other things you do to him. …you aren’t, right?”
“No. I only do that stuff with San-Kyung.”
Lishe-Ashyo’s eyes widened. “Oh, I see.”
“Huh?”
Lishe-Ashyo whispered something into Gen-Reiya’s ear. Dosa-Mina couldn’t make out any of it. Gen-Reiya got a knowing look on his face and turned around with a smile on his face.
“I get where you’re coming from, Dosa-Mina. After all, I had people speculating about me and Xhen-Wu…they’re still doing it, honestly. Don’t let it get you down, is all I say. Just, maybe keep a little of the stuff you do to after school? ‘Cause it kinda gets a bit…you-might-get-in-trouble like at times.”
“I haven’t gotten in trouble yet!” Dosa-Mina said, busting out his trademark smile. Lishe-Ashyo and Gen-Reiya looked at each other, then laughed.
“Dosa-Mina, you’re a weird one. You should talk to more of the students in school. They’d like you if you got to know them.” Lishe-Ashyo said.
“Yeah! And if you wanna talk to us again, you can. Don’t let San-Kyung bog you down!”
“Well, be seeing you!” And with that, the two boys were off. Dosa-Mina sighed and his smile dropped.
“They didn’t really care, did they? Or maybe they did care and I’m worse at reading people than I thought.”
“Wilting flu?”
Dosa-Mina flinched. Now La-Iin was standing in front of his desk. He tried to make himself smile again, but he could barely manage a small one.
“What’s that?”
“It’s an Animated Pumpkin diesease. It wilts your immune system. If it gets bad enough you can get sick with all sorts of things and die.”
“San-Kyung wouldn’t die!”
“I never said he would. His isn’t so bad anyway. He’s just bedridden is all.”
“I should go visit him.”
Dosa-Mina contemplated her offer for a little bit, remembering the plan San-Kyung had. Then he shook his head. “He probably wouldn’t like it.”
“Well, I’ll visit him anyway as a f@%k you.”
“He may be sick, but remember that he’s an Animated Pumpkin. He could set you on fire.”
“So?”
“So don’t you not want to die?”
“You just don’t want me to visit.” La-Iin pouted. “I can’t trust you, rival-boy! Who knows what you’ll do to him in the confines of his room?”
“Take…care of him?”
La-Iin’s eyes widened. “I don’t want to know your definition of ‘taking care’ of him.”
Dosa-Mina sighed. “You’re a pervert. I never thought I’d ever say that to a six-year-old…but you are.”
“You are too.”
Dosa-Mina glanced away from her. “In any event, you don’t know where he lives, and nobody will tell you if you ask them anyway, so it’s pointless planning to visit him. You don’t know how to get there.”
“I’ll follow you!”
“You shouldn’t say your plans aloud.”
La-Iin whined. Dosa-Mina laid his head on his desk. “You should probably get back to your seat. The next class is gonna start soon.”
“You’re not acting like yourself, rival-boy.”
“What do you mean?”
“Normally you’re all cheerful and smiley and sadistic, but today you’re just being as normal as your species. And a little depressed.”
“Why do you care?”
“Because it’s creepy.”
“Then don’t talk to me.”
He glanced up at her, but she wasn’t there. It seemed she had taken his words to heart as she was walking away from his desk and back to hers.

***

As the day went on, Dosa-Mina found himself unable to even muster smiles anymore. He just walked to the classes and sat down, if he even had to do that, waiting for the teacher to arrive. Even though Gen-Reiya and Lishe-Ashyo had told him not to worry about being affectionate, for some reason the subject of his reputation was still bothering him.
‘I guess in the end, I’m still a teenager.’
But he realized something by acting this way. After math class, another student walked up to him.
“You alright, Dsl…Dslellu…Dslellular? You seem really depressed. Is it getting you that down that San-Kyung’s sick?” Lirako had asked.
“No. I just have things on my mind.”
“Are you sure you’re alright?”
“Yes. I’m fine. Don’t worry about it. And besides, as terrifying as his sickness can be, it’s not that bad for him right now.”
“If you say so.”
It happened again after his biology class.
“Dslellular, are you feeling alright? Are you getting sick as well?” Deki-Tyunri had asked.
“No? Why do you ask?”
“You’ve seemed…not like yourself today.”
“Am I acting that weird? People keep asking me about it.”
“Well, we’re all used to you smiling and talking cheerfully. It’s a similar case with Lirako. If she came to school depressed, everyone would be confused and worried.”
“Yes, but she’s popular.”
“We’re the smallest class in Malicerie, Dslellular. Even if you’re not popular, everyone’s quite aware of how you normally act.”
“…”
“Well, I hope you cheer up.”
“Th…thank you?”
Even as the day continued on, the students would at random times waste their breaks talking to him.
“So Gen-Reiya and Lishe-Ashyo said you like Species Study.” Xhen-Wu said.
“Yes?”
“You gonna be a studier when you grow up?”
“I guess.”
“Do you like species study?”
“Yeah.”
“You should totally do it. Species Studiers are cool. Understanding all sorts of things. Things I’d never even understand.”
“It’s interesting.”
Xhen-Wu stared at him. “Cheer up, okay?”
“I’m fine.”
“I’d take your word for it, but you don’t seem fine to me. Or to many other people in our class either. They keep talking about how weird you’re acting.”
“Are people really that worried about me?”
“A lot, Dosa-Mina! Maybe most of us don’t really talk to you much but we know how you are. It’s weird seeing you so down.”
“I…see.”
All their conversations with him were making him think.
‘Were those people talking about me even from Class D? I guess I maybe just jumped to the conclusion that they were…damn it, I tried so hard not to let anybody see this side of me. But I guess of course they’d notice.
‘Maybe my reputation’s not as bad as I thought…in Class D, anyway. I might make it worse if I try to act differently.’
As the last class began, Dosa-Mina felt his spirits lifting, and gradually, he started to smile again. By the time the last class ended, and the students went to leave, a few of them walked by his desk.
“Looks like someone’s feeling better!” Lishe-Ashyo said.
“Ahh! It’s so refreshing to see that smile!” Lirako said.
“It’s nice to see you looking happy,” Deki-Tyunri said.
“What are you smiling for?” La-Iin said.
“Why do I need a reason to smile?”
La-Iin glared at him. “You’re just smirking ’cause you know you’re going to visit San-Kyung.”
“Naturally!”
La-Iin sighed. “You better not do anything weird to him.”
“That gives me a million ideas!”
“He’s sick!”
“I’m just kidding.” Dosa-Mina stuck her tongue out at her. “I’m smiling because I’m happy. Would I smile for any other reason?”
“Yes. Sadistic reasons.”
“Says you.” Dosa-Mina stood up. “Well, I shouldn’t keep him waiting. After all, his Mom and Dad are probably panicking about catching his flu. The sooner I get there, the better! Well, see you Monday, little Vampire girl!”
“Not if you get sick!”
Dosa-Mina let his smile drop a little to a small, mischievous one. “Don’t worry, I won’t. Remember, wilting flu is only for APs!”

—–
“So…”
“What?”
“Dosa-Mina.”
“What about him?”
“Don’t you remember what I said earlier?”
“What’d you say again?”
Lishe-Ashyo sighed. “I think I know why he was so upset.”
“Why?”
“Well, the students from other classes were talking about how affectionate he is with San-Kyung.”
“Yeah. That makes sense.”
“But something about the way he acted….I think Dosa-Mina likes him.”
“Of course he does! They’re friends!”
“You really did forget! I mean likes him romantically!”
“…oh.”
“And I’m torn. I mean, a lot of the people around me say it’d be weird for a guy and a guy or a girl and a girl to get in a relationship. And it kinda would be, wouldn’t it?”
“Well, they couldn’t have babies.”
“Yeah. But then, there’s this other thing in my head. I wanna support him, you know?”
“You mean like get him to say something to him?”
“Yeah.”
“But what if you’re wrong?”
“Huh?”
“What if he doesn’t like San-Kyung that way?”
“Then I’ll admit I was wrong. After all, you practically forced me to say that about you and Xhen-Wu.”
“That’s ‘cause we’re not dating.”
“Everyone knows you like her.”
“No I don’t!”
“Yes you do. And anyway, like everyone said, it’s weird seeing him sad. So I kinda wanna have his back on this. Encourage him to do it or something. Maybe he could mellow San-Kyung out some.”
“Huh.”
“But then I remember I’m graduating next month, and there’s nothing I can do come then! So, Gen-Reiya!”
“Yes!?”
“Can you support him in my place once I leave?”
“What!?”
“Please! My conscience is begging me to do this!”
Gen-Reiya sighed. “Fine.”
“Oh, thank you!”
“Still, this whole conversation’s got me thinking about one thing.”
“What?”
“The guys sure seem to like San-Kyung, huh?”

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