31.304.Tonight is My Night

The La-Iin Series
Chapter 304
“Tonight is My Night”

“IT’S HALLOWEEN!” San-Kyung shrieked. He dashed to his bedroom before either of his parents could tell him off.
“God, he’s excited!” Salsh-Era exclaimed.
“He’s so excited, he’s making me excited as well!” Del-Kyuus said, leaping into the air. Unconsciously, she began to levitate.
“…yeah, you have a point, he is pretty contagious,” Salsh-Era said, breaking out into a smile. “Gah! We need to get to bed!”
“I know we do, I’m just so excited now!” Del-Kyuus yelled.
San-Kyung only heard the volume of his parent’s voices–their words didn’t register with him both because of their distance and because of his own excitement. He picked up his phone as soon as he landed in his bed and prepared to call Dosa-Mina, only to notice that his phone was ringing.
“Hello!”
“Hello, hello! Happy Halloween and all that! Excited!?”
“What do you think!? I can’t stop my tail from twitching! It hurts like hell, my whole body hurts like hell, but I love it!”
“….that sounds really bad, San-Kyung. You should get some sleep, or maybe calm down. Are you getting sick? That would be bad too.”
“It’s the tail, I promise…it’s just too heavy right now,” San-Kyung said, speaking quicker than normal. “I’ll be fine in the morning. Ah! Speaking of morning–”
“Yes, yes, I know! You need your little lullaby.”
“Don’t say it like–! I’m not a baby!”
“I know you aren’t. Don’t worry, I prepared the perfect lullaby for tonight, but just as you’ll be going all-out once you transform, I plan on going all-out singing. So listen up, because here I go!”
“Ready when you are, buddy.”

Show all this world what I’ve seen!
Show your desire to be the best!
Let no one else wonder anymore
Tell me, oh please tell me…

***

San-Kyung wasn’t the only one in Bledger who had stayed up late that night.
Fer-Shi hugged her costume close late the previous night, kicking her feet back and forth in her excitement and dreaming of the day yet to come. Deki-Tyunri sat in his bed reading up on Animated Pumpkins and wondering what he would see tomorrow. Elai-Riya and Orlin-Aesth found themselves hoping that Dosa-Mina would assume his true form. Asul-Zenza had a hard time sleeping due to a sudden desire to see La-Iin. Mit-Sun sat on the couch with Choungetsu, feeling restless and concerned about La-Iin’s sudden excitement for Halloween.
And La-Iin laid in bed, wearing the warmest pajamas she could find and wrapped in all the blankets she could find, Bes-Isa lying awake by her side, her eyes closed in an attempt to sleep.
“Tomorrow’s it.” Bes-Isa said.
“Eeeee!”
“Stop screeching like a little girl. Oh, wait…”
“I CAN’T WAIT TO SEE!” La-Iin yelled. Mit-Sun flinched when she heard it downstairs. “Tomorrow’s going to be even better than, or maybe just as good as that time San-Kyung took me out alone with him. Well, maybe a little bit worse because stupid rival-boy is gonna be there, but I’m gonna get to see him use his powers and maybe he’ll even let me help and it’ll be the next step and then I’ll feel almost one-hundred percent certain that we’ll definitely…SOMETHING!”
“Cool it, kiddo. Do you need me to come with you? It’ll be pretty boring just staying here all night. I’d like to watch the wreckage too, especially if you’re partaking.”
“I want you to come, Bes-Isa….but San-Kyung has fire powers and if they’re at their most powerful today, then you could easily get burnt up…”
“True that I suppose. But I’m not staying home. At least take me to school. You said your friend…Fer-Shi, right? She likes Halloween. Maybe she’ll be in the same area you and the boys’ll be.”
“Maybe….Fer-Shi’s not exactly known for her smarts. Also, I never told her we were going to wreak havoc, in fact I don’t remember if I ever even told her I was going anywhere with San-Kyung at all! But that’s alright. She’s used to me not being excited for Halloween because I think it’s stupid. But now…today is different.”
“Yep.”
La-Iin’s room fell silent until La-Iin gave a frustrated huff. “I demand sleep!”

***

The path to school was abuzz with chatter. Among the normal school chatter were the excited voices of students who had been anticipating Halloween, and Class A students who protested to their friends. Class D’s students in particular seemed to be the most active, as even those who didn’t care for Halloween were being quite chatty with each other.
Fer-Shi skipped along at La-Iin’s side, while La-Iin’s eyes remained fixated on San-Kyung from the moment he came levitating across the path to school. Dosa-Mina was close behind him, looking relaxed as he floated along. San-Kyung moved quickly across the path and was one of the first to enter the school building.
“San-Kyung’s sure been levitating to school a lot lately…” Fer-Shi said.
“Of course he has.”
“Well, I guess it looks kinda fun….still, I never see any of the other Animated Pumpkin students levitating…isn’t it against the rules?” Fer-Shi shook her head. “Never mind that for now! It’s Halloween!”
“It is, isn’t it?” La-Iin said.
“…you’re not gonna try and scare me, are you?” She asked.
“That isn’t any of your business, Fer-Shi. Just sit back and wait. You’ll see.”
Fer-Shi stepped away from La-Iin. “But–but I’ll be prepared this time! I’ll be constantly on edge, waiting for you to scare me! I’ll know if you try!”
La-Iin scoffed. “Would you really?”
“Yes I would really!”
“Geez, the little kids are loud today…” A student from Class B yawned.
“Anyway, La-Iin, enough about the scaring part of Halloween. I wanted to ask you about something else.”
“What?”
“How come you don’t like to dress up on Halloween? You love dresses so much that your closet is bursting with them. You love to change Bes-Isa’s dresses too. If I didn’t know you I’d think you would be the first girl to get excited about dressing up on Halloween…”
“I don’t like dressing up because it’s dressing up in costumes. There’s a difference between dressing up and dressing up in a costume. What’s the point in pretending you’re something you’re not just for fun?”
“Um, I…I don’t know,” Fer-Shi sighed. “I guess it is a little silly….but I still want to dress up tonight.”
“Do whatever you want. I have other plans. We might be in the same area though…” La-Iin gave a sly grin. “In that case, enjoy the show.”
Fer-Shi started to feel unnerved. “Um…okay?”

Class D was still buzzing with energy right before history class. Fer-Shi chatted with Shan-Zetsu about Halloween costumes, kicking her feet back-and-forth playfully. La-Iin and Deki-Tyunri had their eyes fixated on San-Kyung, who levitated above his seat wearing a confident expression–though that was something only Deki-Tyunri could see.
When the history teacher arrived, he glared at all the class. “EVERYONE SHUT UP! And you, Mr. Molshei! Didn’t you get sent to the Principal for levitating in class?”
“You shut up!” San-Kyung said. “Nothing you say today will faze me. I’m attending class in the first place, aren’t I? So put up with it. …I have powers I could use otherwise.”
“San-Kyung, don’t!” Dosa-Mina hissed. He turned to the history teacher, who by now looked furious. “Sorry, Mr. Chensu. He’s just really excited, um…..so could you give him today? I can guarantee you he won’t be levitating over his seat for a while after this.”
San-Kyung’s glare in his direction went unnoticed by Dosa-Mina.
“I wish people would take me seriously,” he sighed. “but forget it. I’ll let the Principal deal with you.”
San-Kyung smiled. History class began for that day.

Many of the students remained distracted during the classes. Some were only overwhelmed by the commotion, while others were focused on other things. La-Iin was so focused on San-Kyung that day that she ended up attending biology, but by the time she realized it, the class had already begun. It didn’t matter to her though–her daydreams of San-Kyung kept her alert through every class, though nothing any teacher said registered with her.
Fer-Shi payed more attention, but she was distracted as well. She was curious as to the meaning of La-Iin’s words–that and her excitement for Halloween mixed together and made it hard for her to focus. Mentally she drifted off during some of the slower parts of class, and during biology had gotten called on it by Hyungdarou. La-Iin’s mocking expression hadn’t helped to relieve her embarrassment.
The benefit to the distracted students was that it felt as though class sped by for them. All of them except San-Kyung. San-Kyung felt anxious during every class. He managed to stay focused for most of the classes except for their beginnings, for during break times a mixture of desire and impatience consumed him.
He didn’t want to be stuck at school that day. He wanted to start wreaking havoc as soon as possible. More than that, he wanted to be in his true form. That desire felt like something trying to break through his skin, something trying to push its way out–it was uncomfortable and he wondered if it was caused by the thoughts or if it was a true discomfort that he could do nothing about.
Dosa-Mina noticed his twitching during classes, and couldn’t help but sigh. ‘Soon, San-Kyung. Soon…’
Although most students kept a minimal amount of focus, La-Iin remained so lost in daydreams that it took Fer-Shi shaking her shoulder for her to realize the last class had ended.
“….did you get any of the classes?” Fer-Shi asked.
“Why do you ask? Did you?” La-Iin snapped.
“Um….yeah.”
“Then of course I did,” she huffed. “I–”
Before she could finish the sentence, she was forced into the air and went flying in San-Kyung’s direction, crashing into the wall and startling nearby students. She wasn’t able to pick herself up, for she was levitated to San-Kyung’s side directly after.
“We’re going now,” San-Kyung said. “So I hope you don’t need anything.”
“Just one thing!” She yelled. She dropped to the ground. She ran over to Fer-Shi and pulled Bes-Isa out of her bag.
“Hold onto her for me. She wanted to do something tonight and since I’m going with San-Kyung, I thought she’d be safest with you.”
“Uh, thank you, La-Iin…is she awake?”
“Technically, but I don’t know if she’s actually awake,” La-Iin said. Fer-Shi gave Bes-Isa a confused glance. “Take care of her. See you tonight.”
“Um–see you! Hey, wait, where are you going, La-Iin!?”
San-Kyung brought her and Dosa-Mina above the ground, then the trio quickly levitated out the school. San-Kyung stretched once they were outside.
“Now things are going to get good,” he said. “….there wouldn’t happen to be anything else anyone needs?”
“Just one thing, but I can do that while we’re out,” Dosa-Mina said.
“I bet he has to use the bathroom,” La-Iin scoffed. “I need nothing more than you, San-Kyung, so don’t worry about me.”
“….riiiiight,” San-Kyung sighed, rolling his eyes. “Anyway, let’s get going. This’ll be easier in the dark, but we can prepare now. Nothing’s holding us back.”

***

The trio landed in an area that reminded La-Iin of the place she and Fer-Shi would meet up with Imagination. ‘I wonder if it’s the same place…’
“What do you need, Dosa-Mina?” San-Kyung sighed.
“I figured since it’s your special night, I’d grant you a wish,” he said. “I’ll be right back.”
La-Iin and San-Kyung watched him run off. “I bet he just wants to poop and–”
“What’s wrong with you?” San-Kyung snapped.
“Nothing’s wrong with me.”
“No, there’s definitely something wrong with you.”
“You just didn’t want to hear what I had to say.”
“Maybe I didn’t, because I know Dosa-Mina’s not the type of guy to do crappy things like that.”
San-Kyung quickly realized what he said and slapped his forehead. La-Iin broke out into uncontrollable laughter.
“Sorry for the waaaait!” Dosa-Mina called. He stopped in front of the two. It was now evident what he had run off to do–half his body was covered in light-brown fur, and the other was tinged a light pink. On his back sat a single wing on his Siren side. With one glance La-Iin could tell.
“…thanks,” San-Kyung said. He bowed his head as if trying to hide his expression, but La-Iin could see his smile.
“No problem. Anyway, did I miss something? I heard La-Iin laughing on my way back here, and I wanted to know what was so funny.”
San-Kyung’s expression hardened and he glanced back up, stomping ahead of the two. “….it’s nothing.”
“Yeah, it’s none of your business, rival-boy!”
“La-Iin, can we just put this aside for one night? Besides, when was the last time I called you my rival? You’re always calling me rival-boy, but this is a pretty one-sided rivalry.”
“I won’t risk being careful around you,” she hissed. In the midst of their argument, San-Kyung brought the trio into the air.
“….it’s getting darker already,” he said. “Great. That trip was just what we needed. And that time you took transforming–that worked too. Now I feel like it could happen at any moment…”
“Woo!” Dosa-Mina exclaimed.
“San-Kyung, I want to know something!”
He glanced at her over his shoulder. “What?”
“How come you haven’t transformed yet? I thought you said you transformed on Halloween.”
“I do. …it just hasn’t happened yet.” San-Kyung put a hand up in Dosa-Mina’s direction. “Normally I’d let you go off on a tangent, but I think that’d just take up too much time. Basically it happens randomly, unless I use a lot of powers on the day of the biggest surge…then my body needs to accommodate all the power earlier because of the sheer usage of power. Something like it’s getting confused….”
“I could explain that way better than you are.” Dosa-Mina said.
“Yes, but I don’t want to see La-Iin make a stinkface because you can’t find it in you to shut up about species study.”
“….you don’t need to be mean about it….” Dosa-Mina said. La-Iin chuckled. Dosa-Mina glared at her.
“It could really happen any moment now…I’m waiting for it. I’m prepared.”
“You sure?” Dosa-Mina asked.
“Why wouldn’t I be?” San-Kyung turned around completely. “Speaking of transformations, how come you aren’t transformed?”
“…”
“She didn’t think of it,” Dosa-Mina said.
“Shut up, rival-boy. That was a good idea, San-Kyung. I considered it, but I didn’t want my transformation to divert your spotlight. …after all, you can see the extent of my powers any time.”
La-Iin had expected San-Kyung to roll his eyes, but instead he glared at her. He turned away. “Right. Just transform.”
La-Iin bit into her arm and sucked some of the blood. She let San-Kyung handle her direction completely as she transformed. ‘I wonder if this is how it feels to be a V-Puppet….’
“If everyone’s ready, I’m going to start,” San-Kyung said. “Actually, f@%k that. I’m starting even if you two aren’t ready.”
“I’m always ready!” Dosa-Mina said.
“I finished my transformation,” La-Iin said.
“Now….now it’s time. Tonight is my night!”
Massive amounts of vines rose from the ground, wrapping around all the surrounding houses. If not for the sheer size of the vines, La-Iin wouldn’t have been impressed–the houses they wrapped around had already been covered in foliage from being abandoned. La-Iin was more taken aback by their sudden change in color–the vines became a bright orange and appeared to harden. When La-Iin passed by one, she could knock on it.
“That’s a power I like to call pumpkify,” Dosa-Mina said. “He made it the texture of a pumpkin. Now that’s a power you won’t see outside of October.”
“It’s not all I have either,” San-Kyung said. “Just you watch!”
San-Kyung clenched his hands into fists. Blood poured down them, but it didn’t seem to faze San-Kyung as he sent a flurry of seed bombs flying from both palms in all directions as rapid as gunfire.
“Oh yeah, I forgot about that one!” Dosa-Mina exclaimed. “Why didn’t you use it earlier?”
“Because it hurts to use, that’s why!” San-Kyung yelled. Despite his words, he sounded more happy than usual. “There’s other ones I can use as well.”
Fire spurted from his hands as if a flamethrower. San-Kyung lit one of the houses. He seemed disappointed when the fire stayed mostly contained.
“….it doesn’t matter. I have other things I can do.”
“You have a lot of powers,” La-Iin said.
“More than you, that’s for sure.”
“Someday I’ll be better than you!” La-Iin said.
“Yeah, right. The day you’re better than me is the day I rescind and become your husband,” he said sarcastically. La-Iin’s wings twitched. ‘Now I definitely need to become better than him.’
San-Kyung combined all the powers into a display that seemed too flamboyant for mischief. His mannerisms were as though he was putting on a show as he rose vines from the ground and ‘pumpkified’ them, and he seemed to be showing off as he set fire to dying vines or shot off several seed bombs at abandoned houses. Occasionally he would spin in midair. And no matter how much blood dripped from his hands, he never seemed fazed–in fact it was almost the opposite. He hardly seemed in pain, yet would cry out in giddy tones the agony he was experiencing.
It was a side of San-Kyung La-Iin had never seen before, and she was enthralled. Judging by his expression, Dosa-Mina was as well. La-Iin couldn’t help but wonder if he wanted to show off for her, though a more likely conclusion she thought on was that the sheer amount of power had sent him off the deep end.
‘Not that that’s a bad thing. I’d love to copy him right now.’
Neither Dosa-Mina nor La-Iin partook. Dosa-Mina opted out so as not to get yelled at by La-Iin, but La-Iin felt as though everything San-Kyung did was too far out of her league. She made mental notes of it all, thinking of ways she could best him.
Her intense stare went unnoticed by San-Kyung, but it was obvious to Dosa-Mina. ‘Is she staring at his butt, or is she enthralled? Either way….how did inviting La-Iin along help with anything? It’s not like he’s learning anything from her, not anything I can see anyway…’
Dosa-Mina managed to hide it, but he would not lie to himself that he was jealous she was here.
As San-Kyung continued on with his display, the remaining light in the sky diminished, and night fell upon Bledger. Along with that, La-Iin noticed children walking around below them, some talking as if it were a normal day, and others dressed in costume and dancing around. Wherever they were now, though it was not a location La-Iin could recognize in the dark, was populated as opposed to the abandoned neighborhood they had been floating through for so long.
Though their time outside hadn’t felt that long, with San-Kyung’s entertaining display going by as quickly as school had. ‘At this rate Halloween’s gonna be over super early.’
As they floated over a sidewalk, San-Kyung’s displays died down, and he began to move slower.
“Is it time?” Dosa-Mina asked.
“Yeah….it’s getting there,” San-Kyung grunted. “I can feel it. It’s almost here.”
“You sound sort of constipated.”
“Would you shut up about poop!?” San-Kyung yelled. “I’m about to transform, dammit!”
“You are? That took long enough.”
“Oh be quiet,” San-Kyung breathed. His smile had dropped and he seemed exhausted. La-Iin wondered if he hurt.
“…”
“You alright, San-Kyung?” Dosa-Mina asked.
“I’ll be good in a little,” he breathed. “…stand back.”
“Oh, yes, right.” Dosa-Mina backed away from San-Kyung.
Almost immediately afterward, San-Kyung turned toward the sky. His body started to twitch violently. La-Iin was taken aback. Compared to her own transformation, it seemed nothing alike so far.
He let out a screech as his fingers extended to become claws. His tail twitched and became ridged. The ridges spread across his skin, and his whole body appeared to grow. His head almost seemed as if it were swelling.
“Get back!” Dosa-Mina shrieked. He grabbed onto La-Iin and moved away from San-Kyung. Flames burst forth from his body. La-Iin stared on in horror.
The flames were so bright that La-Iin could barely see through them. Gradually, they began to die down, replaced with burn marks on San-Kyung’s clothes and scars. San-Kyung turned around.
His skin had become ribbed all over, and also a much darker shade of orange than its normal tint. His fingers had become longer and had taken on a shape almost like a claw, and his tail had become thicker. His whole body seemed slightly larger.
But to La-Iin, the most notable feature was his head. It was much bigger than normal, and was the shape of a pumpkin. His eyes, nose, and mouth appeared to be carved in, and when she caught a glimpse of the eyes behind the carvings, she noticed they were the same color as her’s as opposed to their normal green. A short stalk sat on the top of his head and save for two small holes on the sides of his head, he had no ears.
Yet despite the radical changes and the supposed agony he had been in just moments before, San-Kyung now wore a smile.
“This is me,” he said, his voice shaking. “This is Molshei San-Kyung. The appearance you knew before was an imposter appearance. The times I would go easy on people was because I was weak. Nothing about that other form could possibly be called strong. But now–now you will get to experience the true me, the true San-Kyung!”
“Better get ready for this,” Dosa-Mina said. La-Iin blinked at him.
San-Kyung began to go faster in the air. It took a few moments, but La-Iin began to feel it. He was going faster than she had ever flown, faster than her father had flown while holding her–and simultaneously as he levitated, vines sprouted from the ground, seed bombs crashed down, and several plants took on a orange hue that could only barely be seen in the moonlight.
If he had been exercising any restraint beforehand, it was gone now. La-Iin felt a strange feeling building in her at this realization.
But it didn’t take long for her to figure out what it was. It wasn’t a single emotion. It was envy, jealousy, but also love and admiration. At the same time she was shocked by his lack of restraint, she also felt excited.
That mixture of feelings was one she had never felt before, and it was wonderful.
Below the trio, Fer-Shi stared up at the sky. She and Shan-Zetsu had gone out after putting on their costumes and went for a walk with both their parents. They had ended up straying off, but both were stopped in place when they noticed what was happening around them. While Shan-Zetsu began to shriek in fear, Fer-Shi could only stare up blankly at the sky, not at the creature that seemed to be causing all the havoc, but at a small grey figure that floated nearby it.
“Is….is that La-Iin….?”
“Is what her?” Bes-Isa asked.
“Up…up there…”
She pointed Bes-Isa’s head upwards. “How could that be her? Whatever that thing is, it doesn’t look like San-Kyung. She said she was going with him, right?”
“But she did say he transforms tonight…” Fer-Shi began to pale.
“Hey, don’t pass out on me now! I really don’t want to get lost here!”
They weren’t the only ones to notice the trio. Once the Sanhuuns and Gyurkangs noticed what was going on, they began to search for their children. Other parents began to follow along, and people separated from their companions began to search for them. The panic was mild in the crowd, but the situation quickly became chaotic. The children who screeched in fear caused more panic than what was happening around them did, and people began to scatter as they looked for the people they had come out with.
For the most part, however, people could only watch. Even searching for their loved ones, at points they would stop and become almost hypnotized by what was going on. It seemed unbelievable. Vines sprouted up randomly. Foliage turned orange and hard. Pumpkin seeds scattered across the ground and quickly exploded in small bursts; a child who went near one began to bleed from the injury it caused him.
To some it almost seemed as though nature were rebelling. People who had noticed tried to stay away from trees and grass, and some hid with their children under cars. But once some snapped out of their fear or confusion, they knew what they had to do.
The police needed to be summoned.
San-Kyung’s hands looked almost red moments after he transformed. The sheer amount of chaos he had caused within moments was surprising to La-Iin.
“He wasn’t kidding when he said he was powerful in this form,” La-Iin said.
“Yes, there’s almost no getting through to him when he’s like this. Though there’s one exception.” Dosa-Mina took a deep breath. “HEY, SAN-KYUNG!”
San-Kyung didn’t respond at first. Once he fired off another barrage of seed bombs at the civilians, he turned to see Dosa-Mina.
“Family picture ring a bell?” Dosa-Mina said. “Your Mom and Dad will be sad if they don’t get to take the yearly picture with you.”
“…” San-Kyung was silent.
“…don’t tell me that’s not even working this year,” Dosa-Mina said.
“What do you mean by family picture?” La-Iin asked.
“Every year San-Kyung takes a picture with his Mom and Dad while he’s in his true form. One year when he went crazy like this saying that worked and he went to go take the picture, but now he isn’t listening…I guess I can’t base an assumption off of something that happened once,” he huffed. “I can try something else, though…”
“No, don’t. I want to see what else he does.”
Dosa-Mina rolled his eyes. “Whatever. I just want to actually talk to him. I’m not participating this year, and it gets boring just sitting on the sidelines. But go ahead, don’t care about me. I’ll be behind you.”

Elsewhere in the sky, two Animated Pumpkins levitated across, one focused on the sky, the other staring down at the ground.
“Where is he?” Salsh-Era said. “By now he has to have transformed…and it’s starting to get late.”
“Maybe he got lost?” Del-Kyuus said. “Oh, I hope Dosa-Mina’s still with him.”
“I bet he is, but that doesn’t mean anything if we can’t find him in time.”
“I know.”
When Salsh-Era glanced down, he noticed police speeding along the streets below them.
“…I wonder what’s going on?”
“Don’t focus on that for now,” Del-Kyuus said. “We need to find San-Kyung!”

“Aaaagh…” San-Kyung groaned.
“If it hurts, take it easy,” Dosa-Mina said. “Making the vines don’t hurt you, right? Stick to that instead, maybe?”
“…I told you yesterday, don’t try to stop me!
The barrage on the people below him became more intense. San-Kyung coughed and it died down again.
“Does he always weaken this much?”
“No. It’s just the amount of blood he’s using. I’m sure he’s getting light-headed…” Dosa-Mina floated over to him and put a hand on his shoulder. “We’ve still got some time in the night. I don’t think too much time has passed, so why don’t you take a break? Just a short one to give your heart some time to pump more blood. It won’t be good if you pass out before the night’s over, right?”
“Ri….right,” he breathed. “Just one break, though. Just a short one–”
Lights flashed in their eyes. San-Kyung nearly leapt backwards. Police stood underneath them; a few avian cops started to fly up towards them.
“Stop this instant!” The head cop, a tall and bulky Werewolf woman said. “Rescind now if you don’t want to face serious jailtime!”
“Can’t we just give ‘im serious jailtime even if he does rescind?” Said a jittery Siren man.
“Well, we could…” The woman contemplated. “Still! We need to catch him first! So get him!”
San-Kyung’s face contorted with rage. He levitated himself, Dosa-Mina and La-Iin higher than the avians. The avians continued on, though they seemed to be mildly surprised.
“…not the cops.”
“I can deal with this,” Dosa-Mina said.
“…no. I don’t have to pretend to be that weak loser anymore. I’m myself now. The true San-Kyung isn’t going to cower because of this.”
San-Kyung scored both of his hands with his claws. La-Iin wasn’t able to see how much blood he drew; fire quickly lit the injuries.
“I was going to have my fun without fire. Fire’s too cliche for an Animated Pumpkin. I can use that any time of the year. But you all asked for it. If you want a crispy Bledger–”
The flames intensified.
“I’ll give it to you!”
Before he could toss the flames, however, something inside him started to feel strange. His whole body was starting to twitch again, and an immense pain was rising in him.
‘Oh no, no no no no! It’s not that late yet, it can’t be that late yet!’
His fires started to die down against his will.
‘…it is that time, isn’t it?’
His body became wracked with pain, but he found himself unable to scream.
He wasn’t the only one who noticed he was changing–Dosa-Mina saw drool trailing from his mouth and noticed that he was twitching. He also noticed that they were gradually starting to fall, and that San-Kyung had started to shrink.
La-Iin stared on in confusion.
“Oh shit,” Dosa-Mina said, seconds before he and San-Kyung went plummeting to the ground. When she had noticed they had started to fall, La-Iin flapped her wings to keep her above ground, then gently landed near San-Kyung.
The police closed in on him, only to be blocked off by Dosa-Mina.
“Get out of our way, kid!” Yelled a Minomix cop.
“Please stay away from him!” Dosa-Mina plead. “It’s November now, right? He’s an Aesthetically Normal AP. They get weak in November. He wouldn’t be able to hold up to jail time!”
“You think that’s an excuse?” The Werewolf woman asked.
“I’m not trying to use it as an excuse, honest. He can’t handle jail in his condition. I want it for his safety.” Dosa-Mina stared them down. “I’ll take care of everything he messed up. I will! So please, let him recuperate. If you have to come back for him later, then do…but he can’t be in jail while he’s recovering.”
The police closed in. Dosa-Mina grit his teeth.
“I have earplugs in my back pocket,” he whispered. “Take those and plug San-Kyung’s ears with your fingers.”
La-Iin took the earplugs and stuck them in her ears. She didn’t like complying with Dosa-Mina, but she felt she knew what he was going to do, and for San-Kyung’s sake she was willing. And regardless she felt a thrill when she plugged up San-Kyung’s ears.
She could tell that Dosa-Mina had begun to sing, though she couldn’t hear any of it. But gradually the police dropped to the ground, their eyelids drooping shortly before they hit the concrete. Dosa-Mina turned around once all of them had fallen and picked up San-Kyung, whose body was limp.
La-Iin had assumed that by now she would have reverted to her normal form, but seeing San-Kyung’s body sent off distress signals.
“He’s fine, don’t worry,” Dosa-Mina said. “This happens every year…the power surge is at its strongest on Halloween, but it starts to die down at a rapid rate once November begins. Since his body didn’t need the other form anymore….it reverted. But because he had all that power and it left him so suddenly, he’s weak now.”
“….really weak?”
“So weak I have to carry him,” he said.
“…I thought it was earlier,” San-Kyung said. Watching him and listening to his voice, La-Iin couldn’t help but be overwhelmed by a mixture of pity, disgust and distress. He had gone from a normal Animated Pumpkin with boosted powers wreaking havoc, back to the boy that looked little more than a Normal with orange skin being carried by Dosa-Mina. She noticed that even his tail had diminished mostly by now, only a small limp one that appeared to still be shrinking.
“I did too. I should have brought a watch, or something…I’m so sorry, San-Kyung.”
“I don’t blame you, Dosa-Mina…but…Mom and Dad are gonna be mad at me…we didn’t take the picture…”
“It’s fine,” Dosa-Mina soothed. “Don’t worry about that for now. I just want to get you home so you can sleep this whole thing off. You went a little crazy this year.”
“It was worth it,” he said. “And….it might be the last time that…” Noticing La-Iin, he cut himself off.
“Say anything about being stronger than me, and I’ll show you I can still kill you.”
“San-Kyung…you’re not yourself.” La-Iin said.
“Yeah, I’m not…he died again this year. Just like he does every year…” San-Kyung’s tone still sounded cheerful, but La-Iin could tell he was sad–his words almost sounded choked.
‘If he cries I told him so,’ she thought.
“This is the end for this year,” Dosa-Mina said. “Putting aside what’s happening now, what did you think of San-Kyung in his prime?”
“I…I don’t know how to feel seeing this…”
“I said putting aside now,” he sighed. “But whatever.”
San-Kyung curled up in Dosa-Mina’s arms. In the moonlight La-Iin thought she saw him blush, and irritation built in her. “I wish I could help you more, San-Kyung,” he said.
“Nah…this is enough…thanks…”
“Do you know how to get home from here, La-IIn?” Dosa-Mina asked. La-Iin looked around her. The area didn’t seem familiar at all, but she didn’t think she could stand being near San-Kyung while he was so weak. The sudden jar of his strength was still having an impact on her.
“Yes.”
“Alright.” Dosa-Mina shifted San-Kyung in his arms. “Well….while it feels like there’s a lot to say, really, there isn’t anything else I can say right now. Just…see you Monday, I guess?”
“Same here…” San-Kyung mumbled. “See you Monday…”
“…okay.”
“Get home safe! Do you want me to escort you?”
“No.”
“Whatever you say, but it is awfully late.” Dosa-Mina turned away from La-Iin. “Well, then….see you soon!”
Dosa-Mina took a running jump and leapt away. La-Iin watched him until he was too far in the distance to see San-Kyung. Then, with a sigh, she spread her wings and began to follow the sidewalk, hoping it would lead her back home.

***

“I think that was La-Iin…” Fer-Shi would later mumble to herself.

——
“Do you want me to sleep over with him tonight, just to keep an eye on him?” Dosa-Mina asked. “This is usual but it’s always strange to see him this weak.”
“We’re fine with it,” Salsh-Era said. “Use your discretion, Dosa-Mina.”
Dosa-Mina laid his head on San-Kyung’s bed. “Then I think I’ll stay…”

Asul-Zenza found himself flying over Bledger that night, his thoughts occupied by La-Iin. At that moment he made a decision to see her tomorrow. Not once did he notice any of the destruction, nor the people sleeping on the streets.

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