25.329.Between Best Friends–Part 5

The La-Iin Series
Chapter 329
“Between Best Friends–Part 5”

“I think it’s been a little too long since the two of us have hung out without Xhen-Wu. Actually, it’s probably been a little too long since we hung out at all. Have you been keeping in touch with everyone else? It’s kinda creepy how you just drop out sometimes like that.”
“Mostly over the phone,” Lishe-Ashyo said. “Although I did see Mali-Ana in person recently…”
“How was she?”
“Is it just me, or is she getting kind of shy?”
“Mali-Ana’s always been kind of shy around boys. Or….I’d like to say that, but a real shy person wouldn’t start pummeling someone because they said something embarrassing…” Gen-Reiya said with a shudder.
“She hasn’t been hurting you lately, has she?”
“No, actually, she’s been keeping her hands to herself. But that doesn’t erase everything else she’s done, and I still remember aaall those beatings quite vividly…”
“I can feel ya there,” Lishe-Ashyo sighed. “…you know, talking about this reminded me of something I wanted to talk to you about, Gen-Reiya. I wasn’t sure I was gonna bring it up, but I think I need to…”
“What? It’s not anything bad is it?”
“No, not really…what did it feel like for you, being in love with Xhen-Wu, I mean?”
“I dunno, I was desperate to spend time with her?” He said, then sighed. “Other people talk about things like getting all embarrassed or nervous and wanting to stay away from them and watch from afar or something like that…”
“You didn’t get that from Mali-Ana, did you?” He asked.
“Only part of it. I just wanted to spend time with her. If you haven’t realized, I’m not exactly the most romantic dude. I value friendship too much to turn one of mine into a sloppy, spitty make-out fest. No thank you. ….of course, I’m not completely unromantic…” He said cautiously.
“So, why’re you asking? You don’t have your eye on Xhen-Wu, do you?”
“No, I…I was just starting to wonder if I was getting a crush, that’s all.”
You, getting a crush?” Gen-Reiya said, his eyes widening. “I did not expect to hear that…”
“I don’t know if I am. I was just wondering.”
“You, though? Not someone you know? Lishe-Ashyo the casanova. The one who always got a ton of chocolates from the girls at school. You think you have a crush.”
“Geez, don’t blow it out of proportion. It’s just a crush, maybe.”
“If that’s the case then who’s it on?”
“Why would I tell you that?”
“Because we’re best friends. And I talked to you about liking Xhen-Wu.”
“You mean you screamed at me that you didn’t like her? Uh-huh.”
Gen-Reiya glared. “Aw, come on, I wouldn’t tell anyone else! Especially if it’s one of our friends you like. ….are you sure you don’t have your eye on Xhen-Wu?”
“Why would I? Stop being such an overprotective boyfriend. Nobody’s going to take Xhen-Wu away.”
“Are you trying to say she’s not good enough that anyone else would be interested in her….?”
“No, I’m trying to say Birdmixes are devoted partners and she should probably worry more about you developing a wandering eye than you should worry about her.”
“Geez, Lishe-Ashyo, it was just a joke! No need to take it so seriously! But I’m not kidding, I want to know.”
“You could suggest all the ladies in the world and I’d never tell you…”
“You’d falter somewhere.”
“Nope. Besides, I don’t even know if this is actually a crush. I told you.”
“Okay, then, how do you feel about this mystery woman?”
“Well…I like looking at her. I keep wanting to talk to her. I don’t know, Gen-Reiya, it’s just this weird feeling I get whenever I see her, I don’t know how to explain it, but it made me wonder if I was crushing on her…”
“That sounds like a crush to me, a little,” Gen-Reiya said. “…you sure it’s nobody I know?”
“I’m not telling you if it’s somebody you know.”
“I can keep a secret! Why don’t you want to tell me?”
“I don’t know if I trust you when you say you can keep a secret.”
“Oh, come on! We’re best friends. I can keep a secret like that.” Gen-Reiya’s eyes widened. “Is it Cou-Riette!?”
“What made you think that?”
“You like to hang out with her a lot. Before you snapped up and started acting all serious you started going over there nearly every chance you got. She’s got a kind of maternal attitude too. I mean, most of the other girls who liked you were cheery and friendly. So I thought, maybe something different was your type…”
“Go spreading rumors to Cou-Riette and I’ll sic Mali-Ana on you. No, I don’t have a crush on Cou-Riette.”
“You said you’d just deny it even if it was true, so how do I know?” He muttered under his breath. “And besides, if she thought you had a crush on Cou-Riette, I think Mali-Ana would sic herself on you. Hey, speaking of Mali-Ana…any chance that crush is on her?”
Lishe-Ashyo stopped in place and turned away from Gen-Reiya.
“Ooh, did I catch you? Wow, I really didn’t expect that! If that’s the case you should tell Mali-Ana! She’d be thrilled!”
“…that’s the problem.”
“What, you’re worried she’s gonna sock you?”
“No, it’s not Mali-Ana. And maybe this sounds strange to you, but I wish it was.”
“Uh, dude…if you’re wishing you had a crush on Mali-Ana, you probably do.”
“You don’t understand what I mean by that,” Lishe-Ashyo sighed. “…it’s easy enough for me to tell that she likes me that way. When we went out the other day I could tell from the way she acted…I’ve seen other girls act that way around me. You’ve seen it too, haven’t you?”
“Everyone knows Mali-Ana likes you, Lishe-Ashyo,” Gen-Reiya said, “but where are you going with this?”
“She’s my friend, and she likes me. I like it better when my friends are happy. It’s why I’ll go and spend time with Cou-Riette and An-Tois even sometimes when I didn’t want to, why I’d play sports I could never win against Xhen-Wu back when we were younger, why I put up with your gushing about Xhen-Wu over the phone…”
“…just pretend you never heard any of that,” Gen-Reiya sighed, his face turning bright pink.
“No can do,” Lishe-Ashyo said, grinning. His grin soon faltered. “So, you know, I wish I could make her happy. I wish I could just tell her I like her too and make her smile instead of thinking of her as a little sister.”
“You think of her as a little sister?”
“Yeah, pretty much, which is why I’m starting to think I could never return her feelings. So that’s why I wish I had a crush on her instead. Because then I could make my friend happy instead of just sitting her stewing about a girl who’d probably never like me back…”
“Sooo….if it’s not Cou-Riette, and not Mali-Ana, then who is it?”
“Everything I just said to you went in one ear and out the other, didn’t it?” Lishe-Ashyo sighed. “Look, can you keep a secret about all that stuff I said? I don’t want to make her upset.”
“I can keep that a secret. I don’t want to see Mali-Ana upset either. She’s one of my best friends, and seeing her crying upset instead of angry upset would just be kinda…wrong.”
“Yeah, definitely. …so you’re sure you can keep that a secret?”
“…then maybe I will tell you who I have a crush on, if you promise you can keep that a secret too.”
“What made you trust me now?”
“I dunno, I guess I just feel like I can tell you now, but you gotta keep it a secret, alright?”
“I will!”
“Thanks,” Lishe-Ashyo said with a sigh. “…you’ve heard of Usl-Thaehey before?”
“Yeah, I think almost everyone in Vaelyn has,” he said casually. “Wait a second…”
“Yeah, it’s her,” Lishe-Ashyo said, covering up his face. “She’s just so adorable, and every time I see her it’s just so…”
“I thought this was someone you actually knew!” Gen-Reiya shrieked. “Lishe-Ashyo, you disappoint me!”
“What were you expecting!? Oh, never mind, I know the answer to that one.”
“So what’s the answer?”
“You were thinking it was gonna be one of our friends, or one of our teachers from Malicerie. Or maybe you even thought it would be your sister?”
“Dude, I can’t see anyone liking my sister. That’s just creepy. You ever get a crush on my sister, I’ll sic Mali-Ana on you.”
Lishe-Ashyo shook his head. “I definitely know nothing would happen with me and her, though, so I’m gonna try and give up on it….I just wish she wasn’t so damn cute…”
“She seems like a lot of fun, but….cute?”
“You wouldn’t understand, Gen-Reiya. You’re not single.”
“Are you trying to say I can’t tell when a girl’s cute anymore?”
“Exactly.” Lishe-Ashyo said, before chuckling.
“What now?”
“I don’t know,” he sighed. “Gen-Reiya, let’s stay friends, alright?”
“I don’t think we’d stop being friends now,” he said. “So of course! There’s another promise I can make you!”
Lishe-Ashyo walked over to a bench and started to relax. Gen-Reiya joined him. The two gave contented sighs as they stared up at the sky.

“…you’ve got weird taste in women,” Gen-Reiya said as he and Lishe-Ashyo listened to Sweet Inevitable Death.
“Hey, even though you don’t like Mali-Ana that way, is she your type? Seeing as you like Usl-Thaehey and all…”
“How am I supposed to know? That’s like asking you if girls like Mi-Yagi are your type!”
Gen-Reiya grimaced. “They’re not.”
“See? It’s just nasty. I’m not answering that question.”
“Maybe that’s for the better. I mean, I don’t think our little circle of friends needs another couple…”
“Yeah, we’ve got all the goop we need with you and Xhen-Wu.”
“We’re not a goopy couple!”
“Say what you like,” Lishe-Ashyo sighed. Gen-Reiya opened his mouth to speak again, but Lishe-Ashyo shushed him as another one of Usl-Thaehey’s songs started.


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