3.519.Love Me as I Am

The La-Iin Series
Chapter 519
“Love Me as I Am”

“San-Kyung just seems like he’s getting worse,” whispered Del-Kyuus. “I’m really worried. Maybe we should do something about it, and not just talk to him. You know he won’t say anything to us.”
“I know we probably should, but what can we do? I’ve been thinking on all the ways and I can’t figure out a single one. What would work for him? If we sent him to talk with somebody, he’d probably just reject it.”
“Well, something has to be done!”
San-Kyung sat at the table that morning, watching his parents whisper to each other, seemingly oblivious to the fact that he could overhear their every word.
Overhearing their conversation only made him feel worse than he already was. He wasn’t sure whether he should feel touched that his parents were so concerned, or angry that they didn’t think he could push past it this time. Either way none of it alleviated any of his pain.
Salsh-Era glanced at the clock. “San-Kyung, it’s getting a little late. You should probably head off to school now.”
“Oh.”
“San-Kyung, sweetie, do you mind if I ask you a question?”
“No.”
“Is this because of what happened last year? You know…the Malicerie incident?”
“Yeah, you seemed pretty off right after it happened, now that I think about it,” he said. “The one-year anniversary is here. Nobody would blame you if it was about that.”
His parents’ words brought back vivid memories of being stuck in class–of tearing off his palm and only being half-aware of everything that was going on around him, choked by a horrid smell and being completely unable to move. The memories only served to make his mood plummet down further, and he stood up from his seat and walked towards the door.
“I’ll be back.”
“Be safe, okay, San-Kyung?” Del-Kyuus called. “And really, don’t hide your feelings! If it’s because of the Malicerie incident, or if it’s something else, please come to us. We won’t mind even if it’s just something you think is small. If it’s making you this upset, it means a lot to us.”
“Kyu–er, I mean, your mother is right, San-Kyung. Please talk to us.”
San-Kyung forced a small smile, but didn’t say anything further. It didn’t seem to reassure his parents, but he didn’t have time to dwell on it. He had to get to school.
He opened the door and recoiled when he saw Dosa-Mina standing in front of the door, looking as surprised as he felt before soon easing into a relaxed smile.
“What a coincidence that you’d open the door right now,” he said.
“Why would you come all this way? We meet up on the path to school.”
“I got bored waiting. Come on, we’re gonna be late. Don’t want to dent that perfect attendance, do you?”
San-Kyung glanced back at his parents. They seemed to be a bit more relaxed, their gazes focused on Dosa-Mina. “I’ve dented it a bit already, haven’t I?”
“Well, a lot of that stuff was sickness and accidents, wasn’t it?”
“I don’t even remember anymore.” He walked outside and the two head off on the path to school.
“Now that we’re out of earshot of your parents, I might as well admit the second reason why I came all the way over here instead of waiting for you to arrive.”
“It’s always ulterior motives with you, isn’t it?”
“It is a lot of the time,” he said with a smile. “Anyway…well, I know you’ve been pretty down ever since what happened last month. I have been too. And recently, something…kinda bad happened, something I don’t want to talk about right now because it requires too much explanation for just walking to school. If I’m being honest, I’m not sure I’d want to talk with you about it at all. I still don’t exactly trust my judgment on it.”
“Huh?”
“I know it’s silly to bring up when I’m not even going to say anything about it, but it made me feel horrible. You’ve been obviously upset for weeks now, and one stupid, incomprehensible problem of mine pops up and instead of trying to help you, I just focus on that instead.” He bowed his head. “I’m sorry.”
“Why shouldn’t you focus on yourself? You’ve been having problems for longer than this stupid one’s been around…”
“Well, it doesn’t make any sense!” He exclaimed. “Sorry, it really doesn’t. Anyway, San-Kyung, therein lies what I actually wanted to say. I know you’ve been having troubles, and so have I, but let’s not let that get in the way of our friendship, alright? I don’t want us to be meeting up and always talking about this problem or that. Our problems are a part of us, but they’re not all of us.”
“…”
“I’m going to do my best to help you, San-Kyung. Problems or not. But we also need to have fun with our lives, too. Remember how we used to play or head off to Hledshess or just walk around and have fun? We should do things like that again. But no matter what happens, San-Kyung, you’re my friend and I love you. I’m here for you through thick and thin, so don’t go doing anything drastic, okay? Promise?”
‘It’s like he’s reading my mind.’ “…I won’t. We have a promise to do that something drastic together. And anyway, I’ve still got to figure out what your problems are.”
“Hey!” Dosa-Mina exclaimed. San-Kyung gave a half-hearted chuckle in response.

***

Despite their earlier conversation, class was much as it had been for him recently–during break times he was lost in thought, dwelling on his own sadness. That Dosa-Mina seemed to be doing likewise did not make them any more tolerable, as well as the fact that some of the lessons that the teachers taught, as always, were things that he already knew, and oftentimes quite well.
Still, he felt a little bit better with Dosa-Mina’s words of reassurance. He could imagine La-Iin chiding him and calling him weak, but he pushed such thoughts away. Without Dosa-Mina, and certainly without his parents as well, despite his conviction to punish the world he might have given up already.
‘But how am I even going to achieve that dream? Without my true form, I’m at a loss every November, and it’s not much better in the months right after it. It wouldn’t be a case of the world recovering after my death, it would be a case of a staunch resistance made against me while I’m down for the count…and it would also mean eternally looking like this…
He felt swamped in negativity.
“San-Kyung!”
Hearing that voice didn’t help.
“What do you want?”
“I was just thinking about how we hadn’t talked much since I sucked your blood, and also I’ve been thinking nonstop about what you said to Ai-Reia yesterday.” She smirked. “I know you call us friends now, but I think you like me more than you let on.”
“I’m sure no matter how many times I say ‘I’m not a pedophile’ it will never get through your head.”
“You worry about that now,” she said, fluttering onto his desk. “But someday in the future, when I’m in my thirties, won’t that not be pedophile-like then?”
“Aren’t thirty-year-old Vampires in their teenage years around then?”
“I’m a special case in case you haven’t noticed. And besides, what difference does it make? Nineteen is adulthood, and nineteen is also teen.”
San-Kyung rolled his eyes.
“I’ve been worried about you, though.”
“Well, stop.”
“I’ve been thinking whether you see me the way I do or not, we’ve become more genuinely close. That horrible day that I caused last month, I felt like I was on the verge of success. I would finally beat out rival-boy!”
“Beat me out in what?” Dosa-Mina asked.
“Shut up, rival-boy! This conversation has nothing to do with you!”
“If it has nothing to do with him, then have this conversation away from him. And the next class is going to start soon, so get out of here.”
“I still want to say something to you. I’m going to try my hardest to repair all the problems I’ve caused. Your blood taught me I truly can rule the world and that no opposition can stop me as soon as I’ve figured it out. Almost all my doubts have been cast away. If your blood could do that for me, then I can repair all the sadness I’ve caused you.”
San-Kyung narrowed his eyes.
“Besides, I really do like you when you’re in your true form, even if I only really saw it once. But I like you as you are now, too. Either way you are, however you end up, that will never change, even if you go good. And I seriously doubt that. ….although if you start dating rival-boy I’ll question if you don’t have a few screws loose.”
Footsteps echoed through the hallway and La-Iin flinched. “Anyway, no matter how much you like me, I’m always your ally, and I always will be your ally, and there’s nothing you can do to stop that or my wiles!” With those words, La-Iin took off.
As the next class started, San-Kyung didn’t feel much better emotionally than he had been the past few days. But something about the idea of having Dosa-Mina and even La-Iin on his side felt immensely comforting to him. Perhaps things from here wouldn’t be alright, but they might just be tolerable. Somehow, this could push through to a better future.
Of course, to start off he’d have to get past this insufferable sadness first.

—–
“Someday, San-Kyung, you will be my husband, and that day you will understand why it’s your best choice!”
La-Iin screamed those words at San-Kyung as she flew past him on the way out of school. Fer-Shi chased after her, complaining about something San-Kyung couldn’t understand over the murmur of students.
“Like her or not, you have to admire her devotion to you. I think she actually thinks she would make you happy.”
“Yeah, well, if she does she’s seriously deluded. She’d make me feel worse, I bet.”
“So, saying that, when do you think you’ll drop her as a friend?”
San-Kyung blinked. “I’ll just have to wait and see on that one.”

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