16.440.The Other Aspects of Life

The La-Iin Series
Chapter 422
“The Other Aspects of Life”

“San-Kyung, can I talk to you for a moment?”
San-Kyung glanced up. He had woken up early feeling dehydrated and decided to pour himself a glass of water. Salsh-Era had woken up not much later and sat across from him at the table before asking his question.
“What do you want, Dad?” He asked before going back to sipping his water.
“Just a little something. It’s nothing bad, so promise me you won’t over-react when I start talking?”
San-Kyung glared. “You saying that makes me think you’re lying.”
“I’m not!” Salsh-Era said. “I was just wondering. I know about your, er…goal for the future and all that, but I was thinking you’re a little too focused on that. Aside from that, you just go to school, you hang out with me, Del-Kyuus or Dosa-Mina…isn’t there something more that you want to do with your life?”
“What else is there to do?”
“Well, find something you like and take that as something you can do. Read a book or something. I know you study often, so I won’t suggest that.”
“I think I do enough.”
“Aren’t you bored sometimes?” He asked. “If you are, I can try and help, if you’ll let me.”
“Thanks, Dad, but I’m fine,” he said. “I’m going to go lay down before school. If I fall asleep, make sure to get me.”
“I will,” Salsh-Era sighed. San-Kyung head back to his room and laid on his bed, pulling the sheets over his head.
‘What’s wrong with me?’ He thought. ‘This lack of confidence is the last thing I need. I’m never going to get anywhere like this. Nothing good will come from this.’
His thoughts drifted off to La-Iin and their last interactions. ‘There has to be something more I can use her for. Right now all she’s good for is her power. And Dosa-Mina’s research still isn’t going anywhere even now that she’s back on my side…’
He couldn’t suppress the feeling that right now, he was completely useless. He was tempted to call Dosa-Mina, but wasn’t sure if he should.
‘All I’d be doing is worrying him for no good reason,’ he thought. ‘I’ll rely on him for important things, not stupid things like feeling useless…’
Still, he stared at his phone, the desire to do so still strong but his conscience holding him back. Just when he was about to leave his bed, it began to ring and he quickly picked it up.
“Hi, San-Kyung! Sorry for the random before-school call. I was just wondering, do you want to do anything after school? I’d discuss it with you at school but whatever faith I had that Lirako won’t snoop in on any conversation of ours is gone.”
“Um…” San-Kyung felt like sighing, but he suppressed it. “Yeah, we could go on a walk…I haven’t done much of anything with that new car I found…”
“Oh God, San-Kyung…”
“Well, I like driving!”
“If your driving skills weren’t so vomit-inducing, I might not have as much of a problem with that. ….hey, San-Kyung, this might sound a little prying, but are you alright? You sound kinda down. Tired? Didn’t get much sleep? If you’re really sleep-deprived one night I don’t mind if you call me. I deal with you doing that in October so I’m sure I can handle it if it’s not too late.”
Again San-Kyung was hit with a feeling of both sadness and relief. He blinked hard, feeling confused.
“I’m fine, mostly.” San-Kyung let himself sigh. “Dosa-Mina, do you think I focus on the same things all the time?”
“Maybe sometimes. Who cares? I pretty much focus on school, species study, showering you in affection, helping with your plans, et cetera et cetera. What brought this on?”
San-Kyung felt reluctant to say, but he reminded himself he was talking to Dosa-Mina. “Something my Dad said…”
“Trying to dissuade you from the dark side?”
“He just said he was worried I only do the same few things all the time.”
“Well, there’s lots he doesn’t know about. But there are all sorts of things out there that we could do. Or you could do with your parents, or do alone if you so choose…although I’d love to go along to see whatever new ventures you try. Perhaps you could go on an adventure for no other reason than you feel like it. I know you have some camping skills in you!”
“Who knows,” he sighed. “We can talk about this later. I don’t want Dad listening in and we’ve got school soon.”
“Yeah. Well, talk to you again soon, San-Kyung! Like in a few minutes.”
“It’s gonna be longer than that,” he chuckled.
“Oh, I wouldn’t know about that…”

***

San-Kyung and Dosa-Mina hardly talked to each other at school that day, both lost in their own thoughts. As San-Kyung wondered about the distant look in Dosa-Mina’s eyes, Dosa-Mina wondered about San-Kyung’s emotional state.
Nobody else talked to them at school either, though La-Iin waved at San-Kyung on her way out the building. The two stayed close together in the crowd of students, then broke off and began to head down a forest path.
“This is going to be a nightmare,” Dosa-Mina sighed. “I guess I should prepare for the possibility of waking up in the afterlife.”
“Oh, be quiet. I’m not going to get you hurt.”
“I believe you there, but I’m not sure my trying to keep you safe will keep me safe…”
“You’ll be fine. I’ll make sure of it.”
The pathway ended up a long one, and San-Kyung found himself becoming quickly impatient. “I don’t remember the car being this far away last time I saw it.”
“Maybe it got moved. Or maybe you’re just being impatient. My legs are nowhere near tired yet, and they were last time we found the car.”
San-Kyung glanced at Dosa-Mina. He seemed lost in thought. “I still keep thinking about what my Dad said,” he said absently.
“That stuff about finding other things to do? Is that why you wanted to use the car, ’cause you haven’t in a while?”
“No, it was just something to do. It’s so out of the way that we could talk in peace.”
“Yeah, it’s nice and quiet here. Honestly though, San-Kyung, if you’re worried about it there are plenty of things we could find to do. Or I could find for you. Or whatever.”
“Ruling the world is my goal, and I don’t see any reason to step away from that,” San-Kyung said. “The only other thing I need is to be in my true form all the time. Then I’m set.”
“Tell me, San-Kyung, which one do you want more?”
“Huh?”
“I was just curious. I know you probably won’t have to, but if you had to pick between ruling the world or being in your true form all the time, which would you pick?”
San-Kyung tried to give the question some thought, but he had known the answer before Dosa-Mina had finished talking.
“I would take my true form.”
“Hm, I see. You know, San-Kyung, I’ve been thinking about you a lot since what happened at Hledshess last month. Like I’ve been wondering if there’s something wrong with you. You seem sad, and I was wondering if that was because you can’t get the things you want. If you tried to rule the world now, somebody would probably stop you. And as it stands, you can’t take on your true form right now.”
San-Kyung cringed. “Bring all that up, why don’t you.”
“You focus on those two things a lot, so I can see how it might become stressful. Two things you want, and they’re out of reach. Aside from that there’s school, and that doesn’t give you all that much time to think about something else. When you’re with me, there are other things you can think about aside from ruling the world and your true form, because sometimes we do the things I want instead of the things you want and you’re not always focused on that around me anyway.”
Dosa-Mina looked at him as if expecting a response, but San-Kyung said nothing. “I worry about you lots when it comes to you feeling sad. I worry that if you’re sad, it’ll build fast and then…well, then there’ll be nothing I can do about it. You’ll be stuck in that hole forever. I don’t want that, San-Kyung, so this is why I keep trying to reach out to you. You’re my best friend. I don’t want to watch you spiral downwards like that here.”
“What?”
“That was a slip of the tongue,” he said hurriedly. San-Kyung wanted to question him, but found he couldn’t. Listening to Dosa-Mina’s words made him want to say something of his own.
“You know, Dosa-Mina…” He said, giving one last glance at the trees to make sure there was nobody following them. “…I never wanted to admit this, but…I’ve hated the world ever since I was little. At first it was just the people because almost everyone I’ve ever met is a two-faced asshole who uses other people and the world for their own gains. I thought I had a connection with nature because it wasn’t using anyone and because I was an Animated Pumpkin. But then I figured out, if the world really cared about being used, it would have dealt with these people already. And it hasn’t. So I thought neither the people of the world nor the world itself deserved my sympathy. And that’s why I want to rule. I want to punish these people and the world for being the way they are. Nobody makes any steps to improve. I don’t even care if everything reverts to normal when I die. I just want that time to torture all these people who use others.”
Dosa-Mina blinked in surprise, but said nothing. San-Kyung took it as a sign to go on. “…there was a part of me that was always sad it wasn’t better, though. I don’t care now, I like seeing people get what they deserve. I like seeing the world get what it deserves. But I can’t get rid of that feeling, and it upsets me. …I didn’t think anyone, not even you, would notice, but I guess you did.”
Dosa-Mina held San-Kyung’s gaze. He noticed that his eyes had started to glisten.
“I guess it says a lot about your trust in me if you were willing to say that,” he said. “I’m glad, San-Kyung. Not about what you said, just about that trust. And, you know…if you trust me enough to say all that, you can trust me enough to cry, too.”
“You?” He asked.
“No, I mean you. So if you need to, well, go ahead.”
San-Kyung looked reluctant, but once Dosa-Mina hugged him close, he could feel droplets land on his shoulder.

—–
While on a walk that night, Kai-Rin found herself glancing up at the sky.
“I hope San-Kyung can find his happiness soon.”

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