27.239.Nightmare Slip

The La-Iin Series
Chapter 239
“Nightmare Slip”

La-Iin followed close behind San-Kyung and Dosa-Mina as the two walked across a path that was littered with garbage. Something crunched under her feet at every footstep, and she couldn’t help but wonder what some of the things she felt break under them were. San-Kyung and Dosa-Mina seemed to ignore the garbage, pressing on without a backwards glance.
“This feels like a wasted trip already,” Dosa-Mina said. “I doubt we’ll find a replacement for your car. You were already lucky enough to have the one you had. And I’m not one to discourage your mischief, but you risked both your and my lives several times with that thing.”
“I don’t intend on finding a car and asking you to get in it,” San-Kyung said. “If I can find one, it’s for my use only unless I can get better at driving. I won’t take the risk of you getting hurt.”
“While I’d like to coo and say how much I’m touched, worrying about you prevents that.” Dosa-Mina glanced over his shoulder after he spoke. “Still holding up, La-Iin?”
“Underestimate yourself, rival-boy,” she hissed. “I’m fine.”
“Why don’t you fly? Walking over all this is a pain, I agree.”
‘Agree with what!?’
“I wish we could levitate across. ….that’s not a hint, of course.”
“Even if it was, I can’t.”
“I don’t like to be in my true form all that much, but I wish I had both of my wings. Using them would be convenient right now. Having long legs only means there’s more of them that hurts when they get tired.”
La-Iin was reluctant to do something that Dosa-Mina had suggested, but even she felt that if she kept going, she might fall over from all the throbbing in her legs. She spread her wings and switched to flying, then tried to catch up with San-Kyung and Dosa-Mina.
“Was it fun to drive?” La-Iin asked.
“It wasn’t fun being in the passenger’s seat…” Dosa-Mina said.
“I didn’t ask for your opinion.”
“It gave me a thrill, I’ll admit that….going at high speeds was the best.” San-Kyung’s expression changed almost as soon as he started talking. La-Iin was both taken aback and enamored by the excitement in his eyes. “I’d love to have that feeling of being behind the wheel again. I don’t know who invented cars–”
“How come you don’t know that? Haven’t we gone over inventions in school before?”
“Maybe at Deatrou,” San-Kyung sighed, rolling his eyes. “Anyway, it was wonderful. Even if the person who invented cars was on the side of good, I wouldn’t care because it’s a good invention…not in that way, of course. It has plenty of potential for bad.”
The sparkle in his eyes disappeared suddenly as his expression became downcast. “Still….there were some flaws. Having to find a way to replenish its fuel was a pain in the ass. It stunk and the front seat hurt to sit in a little. Not to mention…I got Dosa-Mina hurt. For the most part I don’t care about how reckless I drive, because there’s more chance for accidents with that, but…until I can get better, I’m not going to take Dosa-Mina with me. I won’t let him get hurt.”
“And I won’t let you go without me. I’m not going to have you get hurt either.”
“I thought you said you wouldn’t let love make you weak,” La-Iin half-whispered to San-Kyung. His expression became angered once again.
“First off, don’t talk about that in front of Dosa-Mina.”
“Talk about what in front of me?” Dosa-Mina asked, pointing at himself.
“Nothing! And second off, not wanting him to get hurt isn’t making me weak. If I can learn how to keep him safe, then I can learn how to keep myself alive.”
“You should have just said it like that from the start then,” La-Iin scoffed. “Sometimes I wonder if you’re even really evil, San-Kyung.”
“Question me and the next thing you know, you’ll be ashes in the sea.”
The trio continued to trudge over the garbage, save for La-Iin, who kept flying next to San-Kyung.
‘Why am I so tired?’ She was certain she hadn’t been flying for long, but her wings already felt exhausted. She kept going anyway, if only because her legs still felt worse fatigue than her wings did.
“Look!” San-Kyung exclaimed. He dashed down the path. Dosa-Mina picked up speed as well, and La-IIn followed close behind them.
San-Kyung stopped next to a beat-up purple car. Its bad condition was evident immediately–it had broken windows and a light in the front was destroyed. La-Iin noted that the location of the wheel was abnormal as well, though she assumed that was design as opposed to disrepair. It had several scuff marks on it, though it wheels seemed almost brand-new and its seats comfortable save for stains.
“This is in even better condition than the old one!” He said, his voice squeaking slightly. La-Iin’s wings started to flap harder. His excitement was contagious as he looked over the car.
“It is a nice car,” Dosa-Mina said. “But it doesn’t seem to be a Vaelis model….”
“That doesn’t matter. I’m sure it’s driveable.”
“And it’s purple.”
“That doesn’t matter either. Let’s see….” San-Kyung got behind the wheel. “Wow. This is a little weird.”
“You don’t plan on driving that now, do you?” Dosa-Mina asked.
“How else am I going to take it somewhere safe?”
“I’d say this is safe enough. Do you really think anyone in their right mind would trudge over garbage for a car that’s all beaten up?”
“Are you trying to say I’m not in my right mind?”
“No, you seem more desperate to me. In any event I really doubt anyone would come and take this car. Besides, driving it over garbage? That’s a surefire way to blow one of the wheels. And since it’s not a Vaelis model car, what if it operates slightly differently? The steering wheel’s already on the wrong side. Other things about it might be different too.”
“I’m sure I could figure it out,” he said.
“You have no faith in him, rival-boy,” La-Iin said, sitting down on the car.
“Get off, La-Iin!”
“Maybe once you get it to start.”
“Without a key, that’ll be pretty hard….damn, the last car had a key. What am I gonna do about this one….”
“Maybe leave it until further notice?”
“No. I want to get this out of here as soon as possible.”
“San-Kyung! Now I’m wondering if you really are in your right mind! Aren’t you worried at all?”
“About what?”
“You’re worried about me getting hurt by being in the passenger’s seat, but you’re not worried about hurting yourself? There’s so much garbage that the car might tip over. Or maybe the garbage will hurl you into a tree and you’ll get crushed!”
“I’ll be careful!”
“So you won’t just stop for yourself. You won’t care about yourself.” La-Iin could see tears in Dosa-Mina’s eyes. She rolled her own in response.
“Dosa-Mina…”
“If you won’t stop, then I’ll stop you! I’m not going to watch you get hurt, San-Kyung! I’m not going to watch you die again!”
“….again?”
Dosa-Mina gasped.
“Now rival-boy’s really gone off the deep end.”
“What the hell does again mean?”
Dosa-Mina glanced away from both San-Kyung and La-Iin, as if trying to avoid their eyes. “Um….I just got it mixed up. I meant to say, I’m not going to watch you get hurt again, I’m not going to watch you die. It was an accident. I was getting emotional, alright!? Look, San-Kyung, just get out of the car! We found it, we know where it is, now let’s go home and at least figure out how to use it before you take it away from here!”
San-Kyung glared at Dosa-Mina. For a moment, he felt as if San-Kyung would decline again. He stood his ground. He was prepared to continue on for as long as necessary.
But after a few heartbeats, San-Kyung sighed. “Fine. I’ll trust you here. But it better still be here when I need it. Really do still think it’d be more convenient closer to Hledshess.”
Dosa-Mina gave a sigh of relief. He grabbed onto San-Kyung’s shirt. “Thank you.”
“You’re welcome…?”
“You are letting love make you weak,” La-Iin scoffed.
“Shut up. I have my reasons for doing things. I’m not being weak.” He eased Dosa-Mina off of him. “Come on. We should go. I found what I was looking for here. And what I really need is to find a key that works with that thing….damn, how am I gonna remember what the keyhole looks like?”
“Do you have a camera on you?” He asked.
“Oh, yeah…” San-Kyung head back to the car, took a picture of the keyhole, and went back to Dosa-Mina.
“Come on, let’s go. You too, La-Iin. I’m not being held responsible if your mother doesn’t know where you are.”
La-Iin flew over to the two boys, and together they took off through the garbage once again.
“…I like seeing you be rough on rival-boy.”
“Where the hell is this coming from!?”

—–
San-Kyung looked through a book under a lamp. “I don’t even know why I’m doing this. It’s pointless!”
He slammed the book shut and sighed.
‘Something tells me what he said wasn’t a mistake.’
It had been hours ago by now, but San-Kyung was still bothered by Dosa-Mina’s words: “I’m not going to watch you die again.”
‘He seemed too upset for it to be a slip of the tongue. ….maybe I’m over-thinking this. Still…’
It nagged at his mind despite him trying to convince himself that it was pointless to worry.

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