30.454.From the Past, Into the Present

The La-Iin Series
Chapter 454
“From the Past, Into the Present”

Biology class had just started, and only a few minutes in San-Kyung found himself getting distracted. It wasn’t because of Hyungdarou’s repetitive way of teaching–he had managed to focus through that in the past. Instead, it was because of a thought that was on his mind.
Dosa-Mina was focused on the lesson, his expression blank. San-Kyung glanced at his arms. For a long time, seeing long sleeves on Dosa-Mina, even in the hot weather, had been normal to him. It still seemed that way.
But knowing what was under the sleeves was what bothered him.
‘All he told me was he did it because of a feeling. He never told me why he gets that feeling. He hasn’t told me a lot of things. What sort of feeling do you have to get to cut yourself up that much?’
He had kept silent about it recently, thinking Dosa-Mina wouldn’t want it brought up after his distraught reaction to its reveal, but today San-Kyung couldn’t stand it. He wanted to bring it up to Dosa-Mina again, regardless of whether or not it upset him.

“Hey, Dosa-Mina.” San-Kyung whispered.
“Hm? Yeah, San-Kyung? Did you miss some of that lesson? You seemed kind of out of it.”
“I got the lesson.”
“Okay. Hey, why are we whispering?”
“Because there’s something I want to talk to you about. But not here. Let’s discuss it on the way back home. But let’s take the long way around.”
“What long way?”
“I don’t know. We’ll find one.”
Dosa-Mina blinked. “Whatever you say, San-Kyung. But you’ve got me curious as to what this something you want to talk about is.”
San-Kyung almost felt sorry for Dosa-Mina, but remembering what he wanted to talk with him about quickly brought him to his senses. This was something they needed to discuss.

***

“Okay, so I’m not sure if this is the long way around to my house. I’m not even sure this is the way to my house at all. I don’t think it’s a way to your house either. Heck, I don’t even think this’ll take us to Hledshess or anything like that, so this is really out of the way.”
“The more out of the way, the better.”
Dosa-Mina ran up next to San-Kyung. “So, now that we’re out of the way of civilization, mind telling me what you wanted to talk about?”
San-Kyung hesitated for a bit, before saying, “Your arms. I want to talk about those cuts.”
Dosa-Mina’s cheerful expression quickly became dark. “…oh. Why? You know they exist already. I told you, it’s a feeling I get. I can’t explain it, San-Kyung, but I know I’d rather not talk about it.”
“I know you want to pretend it doesn’t exist. And I’m not going to go around telling your parents or my parents about those cuts either. But I wanted to make sure none of those are recent.”
“None of them are recent if we’re talking this month,” Dosa-Mina said.
“How about this year? Or, forget that. How about last month?”
Dosa-Mina was silent.
“For a best friend, you sure keep a lot of secrets.”
“There’s nothing to tell. I might not have said anything, but you probably guessed the answer by my reaction. I’m not good with these situations, San-Kyung. I spent a lot of time trying to hide the parts of me I don’t like. When it all comes out, I’m not always sure of how to deal with it. My species is one thing. This is another…really, I don’t want you interrogating me about this! You know now, I cut myself. What else is there to know? I appreciate the concern, and I am going to try and stop. But–”
“Me finding out wasn’t incentive enough?”
“If you got that feeling, you might understand where I’m coming from,” Dosa-Mina said. “Anyway, are we done here? Can we get back on the beaten path and head home?”
“Fine,” San-Kyung sighed. “I’m sure there’s a familiar landmark around here somewhere….but Dosa-Mina, that’s not all I’m curious about.”
“Now what?”
“I remember last year, on your birthday, you told me about how you had strange dreams where you and I were adults. You didn’t go into these either. In fact, you seemed like you wanted to avoid the subject after a little while.”
“I can’t believe you remember that,” Dosa-Mina said.
“Not enough happens every day to bury it.”
“Well, there’s nothing to tell about those, either. They’re just weird dreams because we’re adults in them. It’s all casual stuff that happens in those dreams. Sometimes stuff that seems inspired by the day’s events, but that’s just dreams in general, right?”
“I guess.”
“So there’s nothing important about those either.”
San-Kyung continued walking on, trying to keep a distance between him and Dosa-Mina. “You know, I feel like there’s a lot of stuff I’ve trusted you with. I’ve told you a lot of personal stuff over the years. If you told me I’d trust someone like you before we were friends, I’d have made them feel like a real idiot. But sometimes I feel like you don’t trust me enough to tell me about these things.”
“…”
“It wouldn’t bother me as much if I hadn’t been so personal with you. But it’s not like I’m going to go telling everyone about your problems. I’m not going to start laughing at you because you have them. When it comes to the cutting thing, I hope you stop. All of this makes you weak.”
“Is that the only reason why you care?”
“No, but I figured I’d point it out. Look, what I’m trying to say is, we’re best friends. If I trust you with personal details, you should feel like you can trust me with some too.”
“I do trust you with personal details,” Dosa-Mina said.
“It doesn’t feel like that sometimes. A lot of the things I’ve found out have been accidents. …well, I guess you did reveal the dreams, and the species thing happened before we were friends, but still.”
“But you should know by now that I don’t like talking about myself. Even with you. I always try to talk to you about something else.” Dosa-Mina caught up with San-Kyung, who didn’t seem to notice and stayed focused on the path ahead of him.
“And I don’t like being seen as weak either, San-Kyung. I’m used to everyone seeing me as your clingy best friend, or a species study nerd. My species, my cuts, those are all weaknesses. And the dreams are just….weird. Anyway, if all that got out, everyone would think a lot differently about me. And I know that you learning about my cuts makes you think differently about me, so I don’t want to imagine what would happen if it became common knowledge at school.”
“Learning about your cuts hasn’t changed my opinion that much, I hope you know.”
“Well, that’s good to hear, but still! What if I start talking to you about it and I end up getting too comfortable? If I hide the cuts, and hide my species, maybe I’ll just forget about them and they won’t come up. But if I keep talking to you about my cuts, if I ask you for help with trying not to cut again, if someone asks about my long sleeves I might start fumbling for an answer. Same thing with my species. If I stayed in that form all the time at home, would I still be able to tell everyone at school that I’m a Normal? Or would I falter and start saying Werewolf-Siren instead?”
San-Kyung glanced at Dosa-Mina. “I’ve gotten so used to forgetting about these things. I see my cuts every single day, but they barely register anymore. Only the more recent ones hurt when I have to wash them off. And they’re covered most of the time with long-sleeved shirts. And even though I’m around my parents lots of the time, I always think about being a Normal, because that’s what I look like. If I stay adjusted to all these lies I’ve made up, then I can keep going along with them, because there will be a part of me that thinks they’re true. That’s what I think. But if I start acknowledging the truth more, other people might find out the truth, too.”
“Hm.”
“I’m trying my hardest, San-Kyung. But I know what I need to do to take care of my problems. So right now, all I want to do is help you with yours. One of my top priorities is finding a way for you to use that power. So that’s what I’ll focus on.”
Dosa-Mina walked ahead.
“I don’t understand you sometimes,” San-Kyung sighed. “But what you’ve said isn’t going to stop me from trying to figure it out. I worry about you too, you know.”
“I know, and I’m very grateful. But I can handle my problems myself.”
‘And you get frustrated with me sometimes,’ San-Kyung thought. He tried to search for something else to say, but Dosa-Mina seemed to think that the conversation was over, and stayed a far distance ahead of San-Kyung.
‘There has to be something I can do about this. Either he’s right and forgetting about it is the best thing, or he’s wrong and something’s going to give. If I don’t figure out which one it is, I can’t decide how to handle this situation.’
For now, he decided to keep quiet about it, if only so he didn’t start a fight.

—–
That night, Dosa-Mina laid on his bed, thinking about his earlier conversation with San-Kyung.
“I can’t let my demeanor slip. I need to keep being strong.”
But he had a feeling he was failing. His conviction was wavering.
‘I have to do something about this. Something…’

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