The La-Iin Series
Airy-Aekok arrived at school on Monday with a plan in mind.
‘This is the best plan ever. Dad’s so great. He gives the greatest inspiration.’
She stared at the back of Dosa-Mina’s head, a grin on her face. ‘You, pretty boy, are the ticket to my future. I should, like, thank him after I’m done with all this!’
Xhen-Bei flinched. “H-hi, Llanni! Wh-what’s up?”
“Nothin’ much. I just wanted to ask you a question. Promise it’s innocent. Also…” Airy-Aekok forced her best innocent expression. “Sorry about what happened earlier this month. That was, like, so uncalled for. You didn’t deserve it at all. Thanks for not being as mad at me as the others.”
Xhen-Bei’s ears twitched. “Uh…sure. What did you want?”
“You’re gonna think this is crazy again, but, like, you know how I like teenage boys and all that?” Xhen-Bei backed away from her. “Well, I thought about a healthier way to go about it after talking with my Dad. And I realized, I really love the sound of a boy’s singing voice. Would you be okay with singing for me? Please?”
“Is that all you want?” Xhen-Bei chuckled. “I’m not much of a singer, Llanni. I don’t think you’d get exactly what you want.”
“Aw, come on, I wanna hear you!”
Xhen-Bei sighed. “Okay. But not in the classroom, alright? Let’s ditch real quick and get this over with.”
Even reminding herself that what she was doing was in the name of research, Airy-Aekok couldn’t help but feel excited as Xhen-Bei led her outside. Once they were outside, he took a deep breath, looked away from her, and started to sing.
I’m not going by a rule that’s not my own!
I’ll play the nice-boy act, then break from the mold
I’m content to live by what I deem right
Even outside the public eye
Oh, the privacy of my desire, the secrecy of my situation–
‘He really isn’t anything special,’ Airy-Aekok thought. Still, she let him finish out the song.
“Hey, if you want someone good to sing for you, you should ask Elyshen. I hear he goes to the Music Weekend class. He’s probably a lot better than I am. Though you’ve gotta be careful. The boys don’t exactly trust you after what you did to them, not to mention Elyshen’s shy.”
“I know they don’t. And I’m gonna, like, try and regain their trust. Little by little I’ll make reparations. I mean, I did it at the beginning of my school year. I’ve got time.”
“Yeah, guess so,” he said. “Anyway, good luck, Llanni! We should get back to class now.”
As the students switched classes, Airy-Aekok weaved her way through the crowd to reach Deki-Tyunri. She tapped him on the back and he startled.
“Who else is a Llamaki in this school?”
“Please, Llanni, I’m just–”
“I’m not gonna do anything indecent, promise,” she said. “I want something really innocent, actually. See, I wanna try and act better about liking teenage boys. So instead of trapping guys in a room, I decided I wanna hear you guys sing. And I heard you happen to be part of a Music class.”
“Hey, I don’t think a little singing is gonna hurt you,” Lirako told him.
“I’m not–not as good as some of the others in my class, though…you might want to ask Mr. Vurinen for that…and Llanni, I know what you want is innocent, but I don’t exactly trust you yet…”
“I understand,” she sighed. “And it makes lots of sense. I just really wanted to hear one of you guys sing, and I didn’t want to, like, ask Molshei or something. But I guess I could always give him a try…”
“Llanni, no!” He yelled. “I’ll sing for you, okay? But only a short song.”
“Thanks, Elyshen. You’re the best.”
Deki-Tyunri seemed flustered as he ran into the next classroom. ‘Two boys should be enough to detract suspicion, right? I don’t wanna go around asking all the boys. That’d take up all my time. Let’s hear how Elyshen sounds and then head off to Dslellular.’
Deki-Tyunri’s voice was pleasant to Airy-Aekok, and she regretted saving her recorder for Dosa-Mina. After he finished his song, however, he took off and head back to his seat, his face beet red.
“He’s such a cutie. Too bad he, like, doesn’t seem interested in girls at all. I’d date him in a heartbeat.” She sighed. “Guess that leaves the big guns next…”
Airy-Aekok had been reluctant to approach Dosa-Mina–he always sat next to San-Kyung, and she didn’t like the looks he gave her. She saw an out when he head off for the bathroom during one break time, and she dashed into the bathroom nearby it, hoping to detract any potential suspicion he might have about her motives.
Once she heard the bathroom door open, she walked out of the other one.
“Hey, like, what a coincidence! You’re just the guy I wanted to see, Dslellular.”
“Me?” He pointed to himself. “Why? You’re not planning anything, are you?”
“No way! I just wanted to ask you an innocent question.”
“Sorry, Llanni, but class starts up again soon. And you can’t expect people to recover from being tied up so easily.”
“C’mon, it’s just a silly little question.”
Dosa-Mina sighed. “What?”
Airy-Aekok turned on her recorder. “You’re right that I made, like, a big mistake tying you boys up. I dunno if you heard me talking to some of the others, but I thought I should try and make the way I do things a little healthier. My Dad told me it’d probably be for the best.”
“Well, good on you for trying to change,” he said. “What’s this got to do with me, though?”
“I thought the better way I could get my teenage boy fix without going crazy is by listening to singing,” she said, checking Dosa-Mina’s expression. ‘Nothing yet.’ “So I wanted to ask, could you sing for me? It can just be a little something, but I’d love to hear your singing voice. I think you’d have a real pretty one.”
Dosa-Mina began to look shocked, though Airy-Aekok couldn’t tell if it was because of her request or her compliment. “Sorry, Llanni, but I’m going to have to say no. I don’t sing well, and anyway it’s a waste of time. We really should be getting back to class.”
“C’mon, not even a short little ditty?”
Airy-Aekok pouted. “Yuuldang and Elyshen sang for me.”
“Yuuldang and Elyshen are themselves. I’m me, and I don’t want to sing for you.”
‘Do I pull out the really big guns?’ Airy-Aekok was caught between a decision to keep pressing or to outright confront him about her suspicions, though she feared his response in either situation.
‘He’s the only one who turned me down, but then again, Molshei’d probably turn me down too, and he’s pretty obviously an Animated Pumpkin. But you never know…I could be totally off about Dslellular, but proven right or proven wrong, I’d rather make some progress in this case!’
“Alright, Dslellular. Sorry about asking you to sing like that.”
“You don’t have to apologize. You weren’t…too forcible, I guess. Now I really need to get back to class.”
“I just think it’s kind of a shame. You know, Sirens can’t sing without killing people. We’re lucky we can, even if it’s just for a silly ditty.”
Dosa-Mina seemed to stiffen. “Well, not every non-Siren is a natural singer, and not everyone wants to be. I’m one of those who doesn’t want to be.”
Airy-Aekok walked closer to Dosa-Mina. “Say, Dslellular? If you were born a Siren, and I asked you to sing for me, would you think I had a death wish?”
Dosa-Mina’s expression seemed to answer Airy-Aekok’s questions. “Why are you asking these things? I said no already!”
“Sorry, sorry, just random thinking!” She chuckled. “But really, it’s a shame. You ever change your mind, let me know so I can hear that wonderful singing voice! I bet you have the kind that would really soothe people.”
Dosa-Mina had stomped off by now. Airy-Aekok grinned. “Well, that may not be conclusive evidence, but it’s certainly enough to keep the Siren theory going. I think I’ve got him in a rut!”
Airy-Aekok smiled. ‘The sooner I find out what he really is, the better. And I bet Sanyaow’s right about him being a non-Normal–he does act like he’s got something to hide.’
Content for now, Airy-Aekok head for the classroom.
During the last class, Airy-Aekok had formulated one more idea–one last plan for her research towards Dosa-Mina’s species.
“Hey, Dslellular, mind if I bother you one more time before you go home?”
“Leave us alone,” San-Kyung snapped. Dosa-Mina held up a hand, and San-Kyung snorted. “If this has to do with singing again, the answer’s still no. I’m not a natural singer.”
Airy-Aekok almost couldn’t suppress her grin at the sight of San-Kyung’s surprised expression. ‘He’s his best friend. Of course he’d know his true species. Now that definitely makes me wonder.’
“I’d heard you were a species study buff. Tell me, is it true that Sirens can transform into other species with a song?”
Dosa-Mina looked put off. “Um, yes, that’s true. But it’s only aesthetic.”
“Oh, really? I thought it wasn’t! So, like, their song still kills you and everything even if they look just like a Normal?”
“Sorry for the rando question. My Dad’s a cop, like I told you. He’s told me about some pretty scary cases before. Kinda freaky, to think someone could be disguising as a Normal under my nose and I’d never know they were a Siren until I was dead! Makes you wonder about people like Sanhuun and Hangdul,” she said.
“I’m pretty sure you’re required to put your species down on the school submission form,” he said. “I think we’d know if they weren’t Normals.”
“Makes you wonder why someone’d put down no species. I didn’t think that was a valid answer.”
Students had begun to stare at Dosa-Mina. He glanced around at them. “If there’s anything else you want to know about this, there’s library books on the subject. But I should really get home now. My parents worry about me when I’m out late.”
“I see,” she said. “Take care, then!”
Dosa-Mina did not acknowledge her words, and instead head out the school with San-Kyung close behind him.
‘Oh, this is great stuff,’ she thought. ‘If I were my Dad and he was a criminal, I could really go off of stuff like this. All I need is some hard proof. But then, who knows?’ She glanced at the students, their expressions curious. ‘They might give me what I need. Wonder if Sanyaow could work with that.’
Content for now, Airy-Aekok left the classroom.
“Did something happen to make that girl suspicious, Dosa-Mina?”
“No, nothing happened! Aside from that incident earlier this month, we’ve never even interacted! I don’t know why she was getting on my case today.”
His shoulders slumped. “Maybe it was just a coincidence she asked about it all. I mean, she did say her Dad’s a cop, and that he’s told her about some cases. Maybe she was curious because of that. But what if everyone else in the school starts getting suspicious? I’ve already got Lirako stalking me. What’ll I do if the whole classroom starts to wonder about it?”
“If you panic like that, you’ll give yourself away,” San-Kyung told him. “I’ll find a way to help you deal with her if she bothers you again.”
“I just need to pull through for a little longer,” he said. “We’re in Grade 12 next year. If I can make it past there, I never need to worry about this again.”