22.387.When the Mask Slips

The La-Iin Series
Chapter 387
“When the Mask Slips”

That day at school, La-Iin arrived utterly furious.
Fer-Shi walked alongside her on the way there, and while she looked happy enough, La-Iin couldn’t forget the look she had had on her face yesterday. She glanced around the crowd and spotted Dosa-Mina’s chestnut hair a distance away.
Already she could barely stand to be around him, and after what had happened to Fer-Shi yesterday, she felt she was at her tipping point.
‘Today’s the day you pay, rival-boy, one way or another,’ she thought to herself. ‘I’ll make it so that from today until graduation you never smile that stupid smile again!’

Throughout the break times that day La-Iin was distracted by her plan. That day’s history class had intrigued her, so while she was mostly able to focus on all her classes, her break times she spent lost in thought.
After the last class ended, she kept her eyes focused on Dosa-Mina, who got up from his seat almost immediately. La-Iin could remember what Fer-Shi had told her yesterday.
“I don’t remember ever seeing Dosa-Mina so mad. I really upset him when I said that. I wish I could take it back…”
“Where are you going?” Fer-Shi asked.
“Ahead.”
“Oh, um, okay. See you tomorrow, La-Iin.”
La-Iin waved to her, then walked up to her desk and said, “Don’t become a depressia. Nobody can be friends with a depressia without going insane.”
Fer-Shi wore a blank expression for all of a moment before giggling. “Thanks, La-Iin. I won’t.”
La-Iin turned around and dashed out the classroom, hoping she would still be able to spot Dosa-Mina. Although by now the school hallways had crowded with students from all the classes heading out the door, San-Kyung and Dosa-Mina were tall enough that they stood higher than most students, and she was able to spot the tops of their heads. She ducked into the crowd and began to follow them.
Several voices began to overlap once she was inside, but she could make out Dosa-Mina’s even with all the noise.
“You know, sometimes I wonder if there are places in the world with species combinations nobody knows exists yet,” he was saying. “Like nobody thinks there’s a Minomix-Birdmix-Lizardfoot-Snowliv yet. But what if someplace like Dasdoria has someone like that and we don’t know it yet?”
“They’re probably dead,” San-Kyung said.
“I guess you make a good point. Still, you can’t help but wonder. And obviously not everyone from Dasdoria dies since there are so many escapees…somedays I have to wonder if Dasdorian won’t just become a secondary language in Vaelyn.”
It didn’t take long for the boys to head in the direction they always left school, which soon separated them from the rest of the crowd. As Dosa-Mina continued to talk about species study with a bored San-Kyung, La-Iin debated her next course of action.
‘Shit! I really thought I’d be able to get him alone! I might make San-Kyung mad at me if I attack him now, and who knows how long that would take for him to get over…’
A memory of Fer-Shi’s crying face appeared in her mind. ‘But then again, San-Kyung used to hate me with every fiber of his being. If he had a reason to hold a grudge against me, he’d already have a big grudge against me for what I did to him before. So this shouldn’t be a big deal!’
She pushed off and launched herself at Dosa-Mina, knocking him to the ground. San-Kyung’s eyes widened in surprise and he immediately attended to him.
“Are you alright?”
Dosa-Mina groaned in response.
“You deserved it,” La-Iin muttered, then turned away, hoping she could leave the scene before either boy noticed her.
That hope came slightly too late.
“La-Iin?” San-Kyung said, his surprise at the situation still evident in his tone. La-Iin glanced over her shoulder to check his reaction. San-Kyung didn’t need to ask any questions; what had really happened was already becoming obvious to him, and La-Iin could tell.
Despite his glare, however, he went back to attending to Dosa-Mina, helping him up and checking his head. ‘He really is biased,’ La-Iin thought with a snort. She couldn’t keep from making a few exasperated noises as she took off.
“La-Iin!”
She froze in place. San-Kyung was walking up to her; Dosa-Mina was propped up against a wall, his breathing even and only a slight amount of blood on his face. His eyes were open and focused in her direction.
“You did that, didn’t you?”
“Crashing into someone is intentional now?” La-Iin said innocently, then shook her head. “Oh, you know me so well, so there’s no point in lying.” San-Kyung opened his mouth to speak, but La-Iin continued before she noticed. “You might want to hurt me now because of what I did. Let me just tell you that that’s my reasoning for doing what I did.”
“What!?” San-Kyung sounded exasperated. “That doesn’t make any sense!”
“You’re one of the best Class D students. Think about it for a little bit,” she said. She hadn’t meant to sound bitter while talking to San-Kyung, but her anger towards Dosa-Mina hadn’t completely ebbed. Even now, seeing him with his face slightly bloodied, barely eased it.
“You know what, I really can’t stand you!” San-Kyung yelled. “Always–”
“What?”
“Don’t interrupt me!”
“What did you just say?”
La-Iin knew it was likely only because he was angry, but in her own anger his words only served to intensify that.
‘So biased,’ she thought, gritting his teeth. ‘And always when I think I have a good lead over stupid rival-boy…’
“I can’t stand you!” He said. “You’re really one of the most annoying people I’ve ever had the misfortune of talking to. Other people might be worthless, but at least they have enough brain cells to know to stay away from me! But then there’s people like you, and people like Lirako, who don’t know when to quit. And people like that make it really high on my shit list!”
La-Iin blinked hard. ‘It sounds like he hates me,’ she thought. ‘…was that really a bad move?’
Now she wasn’t sure what to do.
“Someday you’re going to regret stalking me.”
“San-Kyung?”
“Don’t talk to me.”
“You really hate me, don’t you?”
“Yes, I–” His eyes widened, and he stopped talking.
La-Iin felt her wings start to flap in frustration, and she grit her teeth. Her hands balled into fists, and she was sure that she was shaking in rage.
“So that’s how it is!” She yelled. “All along, you were always really biased towards rival-boy. And I knew you were, but I guess just one misstep and then I’m right back to being hated! You take goody-goodies for parents and a whatever for a best friend, and your best chance at someone who can understand what you think about you waste.”
San-Kyung didn’t respond.
“You can’t say anything because you know it’s true. So why bother with me!? You know, I put up with you hating me before. But you get used to having a partner-in-crime. Not like you ever used me. You’d rather have Dead-Weight-Mina over there come along with you to Hledshess than someone who’d actually help you cause trouble.”
Still, San-Kyung remained silent.
“I was stupid. But only this once. You’re the real idiot, San-Kyung. Because if you think people are so horrible, why surround yourself with people who can’t understand you? I can forgive your stupid power issue. You can’t control that. But this sort of shit, this is what makes you an evil failure.”
“Don’t call me that,” he said. “I might not have all my powers all the time, but I could rend your flesh right now if I wanted to.”
“What, with fire?” She huffed. “And I can transform and become really powerful. Someday I’ll be able to use one of the most powerful powers any species can use, and all because I can suck blood. I can fly and escape my enemies. I’d be one of your best assets. What can rival-boy do? Oh yeah, he can sing. Except he doesn’t always do that, because he’s a stupid coward who, for some reason, would rather be a powerless Normal instead of a halfway decent Werewolf-Siren. He’d probably be good, if only he wasn’t Dosa-Mina. I have plans to rule the world too, San-Kyung, and they all involve you. But I can adjust. You obviously can’t. You said not to let love make you weak. Well, I love you, and when you die I won’t stop ruling the world, I’ll keep on going. Because I’m better than you. And if we had to battle for ultimate control of the world?
“I. Would. Win.”
She turned around. “If you ever feel like being smart someday, you can try again. But I get the last word in this situation. And all I have to say is, leave me alone.”
She flew off before San-Kyung could respond.
“Damn her…” He muttered, then sighed.
“Great. Just great. You get hurt, and now she’s pissed. Just when we need her.”
“We’ll be good without her,” Dosa-Mina said. “…at least…for a little. She…she still said she loves you. That’s a good sign, right?”
“I guess, but…” San-Kyung grit his teeth. “At the same time I’m frustrated because she knows I hate her still, I’m so furious I want to see her burn! I want to tie her up with vines and set them on fire and shove seed bombs in her mouth so she burns and explodes from inside at the same time! And I wish she’d be alive to feel it all so–”
“Calm down, San-Kyung,” Dosa-Mina said, standing up to steady San-Kyung. He wobbled on his legs slightly, almost sending both of them down. “We can talk about this more later. I really want to get home so I can wash off these injuries…”
San-Kyung looked away from him. “…I guess we should do that.”
The two head off in the direction of Dosa-Mina’s house, the mood between them somber.

—–
“Damn, it hurts…” Dosa-Mina groaned, touching an injury on his face. San-Kyung sat on his bed, looking dejected.
“San-Kyung…just keep your distance from her for now, okay? I’ll find a way to make it work. I have a lot of information from her already. And who knows, she might not be as important as we think to this whole transformation project. Either way, what’s done is done and she’s mad and you’re mad and you’re getting murderous thoughts, and the last thing I want is you getting arrested because of something you did in the heat of the moment.”
“I don’t want to be arrested either,” was all he said before falling silent again.
The two boys relaxed on Dosa-Mina’s bed, his room uncomfortably quiet.

La-Iin sat in her room that night, tears streaming down her cheeks. It wasn’t because of any sadness; instead, it was because of the conflicted emotions she felt each time she thought back on what had happened earlier that day.

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