The La-Iin Series
“Memories of a Nameless Friend”
“I wish people at school wouldn’t care about me,” Dosa-Mina sighed.
“Does anybody at school really care about you? It doesn’t seem like you have any other friends.”
“I don’t mean care about me like that. When it comes to friends at Malicerie, you’re my only one. What I mean is…” He stared down at his hands. “People know I don’t like Lirako, and they know I hang all over you a lot, and that’s one thing. I don’t really mind that sort of attention, but then there are people like Fer-Shi who feel sorry for me, probably because they expect me to be acting happy all the time…and then there’s…”
San-Kyung didn’t say anything, just kept his focus on Dosa-Mina. “Did I tell you that Lirako was bothering me yesterday about the move I used on her when we had our fight?”
“Yeah. I didn’t think she’d mind, but I should have been more careful. The holdlock is the exact same thing that helped La-Iin figure out I wasn’t a Normal. I guess it’s a lot of strength for a Normal to have, but it’s the first thing I turn to when someone’s attacking me like that. I figure it’ll incapacitate them enough without being obvious, but I guess it is pretty obvious to some people…”
“You should try singing more often.”
“If someone woke up after I sang to them, don’t you think they’d probably remember it? Even though the holdlock might be obvious for some people, at least they don’t start guessing species. That would just give away that I’m half-Siren….” He sighed. “It’s that same sort of bad attention I thought we left at Deatrou. Except this time, I think it’s worse. Deatrou was just because I was affectionate. I can take that, but I’m not sure about this. I think I might be weaker than you want, San-Kyung…”
San-Kyung wasn’t sure how to respond, so he stayed silent and let Dosa-Mina continue. “Remember when we first came to Malicerie? I thought I left all that notoriety behind. I wish I had known to be careful back then. But I didn’t.”
“Then just stop talking to people,” he said.
“How will that help?” He groaned. “I have La-Iin knowing my true species, and Lirako guessing at it and annoying us. La-Iin could tell the whole class and Lirako could plant rumors. I don’t need that. But I don’t think there’s anything that could help…well, La-Iin’s simple enough, but Lirako’s…”
He laid down on his bed. “I just wish I could go back in time. You don’t know how many things I would change if I could…”
“I think Malicerie is going to be a much better place than Deatrou. I doubt anyone will care if I show you a little affection. We don’t even have to wear uniforms here, after all!”
“The more people that leave me alone, the better,” San-Kyung said. “Even if people bother me here, at least I don’t have to deal with Kai-Rin anymore…”
Both of them shuddered. They watched the crowd as they walked and ran towards school, barely noticing two young girls who dashed close by them.
“Well, there’s only one way to find out!” He chirped, then held tight to San-Kyung’s neck. San-Kyung began to gag. “Too tight, too tight!”
“Oops,” he said. “Guess I don’t know my own strength.”
“That’s underestimating it!”
“Aw, come on. Tell me, who do you think is stronger? You or me?”
“I–” San-Kyung blinked.
“You could say you, you know. But if you’re hesitating, does that mean it’s me?”
Shoving his hands into his pockets, he said, “You’re the stronger one right now. But I’m better in October!”
“I know that. But think about it. My strength lies in my physical abilities. Yours lies in your connection with nature! So technically, we’re both stronger than each other in our own ways. And no, I’m not saying that just to make you feel good.”
“Are you sure about that?”
“One-hundred percent. Now come on, let’s go! We just transferred in, so we really shouldn’t be late to school!”
“My normal clothes are so much better than that stuffy Deatrou uniform. I have nothing against uniforms, but seriously. They made uniforms like they thought they were a prestigious school. I wish they could have heard some of the things the ‘honor’ students said.”
“I’m happy to get to wear my ribbon again.”
“Hey, you know something? I never really got why you wear that ribbon in the first place.”
San-Kyung began to toy with the ribbon. “I don’t really know why. I just do.”
“Where’d you get it?”
“Off some old toy, I think…”
“Like a teddy bear? Or was it a teddy Bearperson?”
“Very funny,” he said, narrowing his eyes. “I just put it on one day for no real reason. But I liked how it looked. And…” His voice dropped to a lower volume. “You know my situation. I hate how I look. So I guess seeing something I liked how it looked on me, well…it just kind of stuck.”
“I see,” he said. “Well, I agree that it looks good on you. Better than that sweaty Deatrou uniform. I think if you had to wear that thing for longer than a few hours when it’s hot outside, you’d start to wilt.”
“It certainly made me stink like I was rotting, so I wouldn’t be surprised. Not like it didn’t make you stink, too.”
“Thinking back on it, Deatrou was a stinky place in the spring, huh?” He said cheerfully. “Thank goodness we’re here now!”
‘No guarantees it won’t smell later,’ he thought, though he opted to keep the thought to himself.
“What’s wrong, San-Kyung? Getting thirsty? Need a bathroom break?”
“It’s not that,” he said through grit teeth. “I’m getting antsy.”
“I thought Animated Pumpkins didn’t get antsy that way,” he teased.
“What are you talking about?”
“Oh, nothing. What’s wrong?”
“I haven’t done anything worthwhile in ages,” he said. “It’s frustrating me!”
“Hasn’t talking to me been worthwhile?”
“It has…” He said, starting to lightly strike his hands. He continued to scratch at both with an increasing intensity.
“Are you trying to light a fire?”
“What do you mean?” He asked. But before he could explain, a fire lit in his right palm and licked his desk. Before he could react, his desk lit with flames and caught the attention of nearby students.
It was only a small fire and even startled him a little, but at the same time, he couldn’t suppress a laugh. It wasn’t much, but it felt like a relief to him to watch the desk burn.
“Molshei set his desk on fire!” A student yelled at the top of his lungs. But he didn’t care.
Until a teacher arrived with an extinguisher, he watched his desk burn.
One day on the way to school, the crowd was sparse near the front, so those closer to the school were able to have a little quiet to talk with others or to be left to their thoughts.
“Why do you ask?”
“You look upset.”
“Aw, that’s so sweet of you to care,” he said. “It’s nothing much. I just had a little bit of trouble sleeping last night, that’s all. You probably saw me on the verge of falling asleep!”
“Are you going to be alright in class?”
He blinked at San-Kyung. “You really do care, don’t you?”
“You’re my friend, so I’m asking.”
“That’s adorable,” he said. San-Kyung flinched. He had started to shake slightly. ‘What’s wrong with him!?’ “You know what, San-Kyung, I have to do it. Forgive me.”
“Forgive you for what!?”
“This!” He screeched, before holding on to him so tight that San-Kyung felt like he was cutting off his airways. His screech had caught the attention of other students, who turned around and stared wide-eyed at the duo, as if in disbelief over what they were seeing.
“What the hell are you doing!?”
“I apologized in advance, you know,” he said peacefully, almost as if relieved. “But I had to. You being concerned about me tipped me over.”
“You’re acting really weird,” he said, unable to yell because of how tight he was being held. Once he let go, San-Kyung took a deep breath, and as he did his friend glanced around at the still-stunned students who were still focused in their direction, even as they walked on.
“You shouldn’t be so surprised. You know how I am by now.”
“That came out of nowhere.”
“It totally didn’t,” he said. “You knew it was coming. I warned you.”
“Since when has me being worried about you made you do that?”
“Since forever? And if you say you’re worried about me more, I might do it again.”
San-Kyung narrowed his eyes.
“Aw, I’m just messing with you. Sorry, San-Kyung, but I needed an excuse to do that, and your concern was the perfect excuse!”
As they walked on into the school, one of the students said, “What a clingy friend…”
“Yeah, it was a little less annoying when people payed attention to us less…” He said.
“No kidding. Ah, I’d say I hope we could get back to that point, but I don’t know anymore. La-Iin hasn’t been stalking you much lately, but I wouldn’t put it past her to randomly start up again. And Lirako’s basically the most popular student in Class D. If we’re on her shit list, we’re probably going to draw a bit of attention just for that…”
“Still…I hope someday we can just keep to each other again like we used to.”
Dosa-Mina grinned. “Becoming possessive, San-Kyung?”
“I’m just kidding anyway,” he said. “Well, Lirako does graduate next year. It might be far off and it might be the year we’re twelfth-graders ourselves, but maybe our final year at Malicerie can be a peaceful one…”