4.581.Mr. Eteibreit’s Day at Home

The La-Iin Series
Chapter 581
“Mr. Eteibreit’s Day at Home”

“It’s time for me to head off, Yul-Hiis.”
“Really? Time already? I thought you had time for one session of intercourse.”
Eteibreit purred. “You know what time I leave, Yul-Hiis. I must get there before my workers.” She kissed him on the cheek. “So, what will you do while I’m gone?”
“You’ve asked me this question ever since I quit my job. The same things I always do. And not a one of those things will be kept secret from you. Ask away when you get home, or don’t. I don’t mind, I’ll tell you all the same.”
Eteibreit gave a contented nod. “Alright, then. I’ll be off. See you later, my darling Yul-Hiis.”
Eteibreit walked out and closed the door. Yul-Hiis relaxed on the couch. ‘Ah, I know I should start working right away. After all, that’s what Yong-Hin does when she arrives at the data storage. But ’tis no harm in a quick nap before I start the day….’

***

When Yul-Hiis woke up forty minutes later, he set to work immediately.
‘Oh, internet, for all your foibles you’re the place I find the most information. Why doesn’t Yong-Hin have many computers installed at Eteibreit Data Storage? It isn’t as if we don’t have the vuyong.’
Yul-Hiis had several things he was interested in pursuing on the internet, so many in fact as to have a file on his and Eteibreit’s computer that listed all the things he wanted to look in to. Particularly right now, he was interested in dark secrets hidden within video games–the one of which that caught his most attention being one that supposedly contained real-life murder images.
‘Of course there’s no hard proof though. Of course, when this is a game I don’t and never would want to own. Or even if I did, would Yong-Hin consider it worth the vuyong…ah well, we do have plenty, but still!’
His frustration grew the more he looked through the internet, and his patience went down with it. Just as he was about to give up and find something else to do, he was startled by the phone ringing.
“Yes? Eteibreit residence, Yul-Hiis at your service~”
“Hello, Yul-Hiis! Nice to talk to you again! It’s been a while!”
“Ah, hello there, Sher-Zhen.” Sher-Zhen was a good friend of Yul-Hiis’. The two often talked over the internet about their various data findings. Sher-Zhen in particular specialized in opening programs to find out more about them.
“You must introduce me to this Mr. Tielve sometime, Yul-Hiis,” Eteibreit had said once. “He sounds like an actually competent worker for my data storage.”
“Unfortunately, Sher-Zhen is a freelancer. He couldn’t keep down a stable job, not even a part-time one, if he tried. Those dreams will have to be put on the shelf, Yong-Hin.”
Refocusing on the present, Yul-Hiis continued, “and indeed it has been. What prompts the sudden call?”
“Remember how the last time you contacted me you were looking into that Sunset on the Valley game? You know, the visual novel with the murder images? I got a hold of a copy and did a datamine, and I found a few interesting things. Should I come over and show you them? A few of them are a bit violent as expected.”
“A few things, Sher-Zhen. First off, I am no stranger to even the strangest of things. Don’t worry about content warnings with me. Second off….no, actually, I can answer that question myself. Go on, come over, Yongie’s out right now so it won’t be much problem. She won’t be back for many hours, so there’s no worries about her scoping you out as a potential worker.”
“Ah, good. Alright then, I’ll be there in about an hour.”
“‘Til then, my friend.” He hung up the phone.
“Finally, all my searching comes to a breakthrough. Although I suppose it isn’t my breakthrough. Ah, methinks I’m overthinking things.”
Yul-Hiis wrinkled his nose. “I really need to work on my speech patterns. My parents had too much of an influence on me…”

While he waited for Sher-Zhen to arrive, Yul-Hiis began to set up various things around the house. He tidied the main room for his friend’s arrival, and set up the bedroom for a plan he had for that night. He had only just started a book on data retrieval when the doorbell rang.
“Did I make perfect timing?” Sher-Zhen asked.
“Imperfect timing, unfortunately, Sher-Zhen. I was in the midst of reading a data retrieval book.”
Sher-Zhen looked slightly startled. “I’m sorry…”
Yul-Hiis smirked. “Don’t be. And by the by, I’m sensitive to people who show their vulnerabilities so easily, so cut that out.”
Sher-Zhen closed the door behind him. “It’s just you, Yul-Hiis. Although, the comment wasn’t totally unappreciated…”
His friend’s whispered extra comment went unheard, as he had head immediately for the computer. Sher-Zhen pulled out a small USB stick and stuck it into the computer.
“What, I don’t get the computer chair? Whose house is this?”
“Sorry, it’s hard for me to focus standing up.” Sher-Zhen opened the folder. “There we go.”
“Ah!” Yul-Hiis was pleasantly surprised. The folder was filled at first with images from the game itself, but a separate folder contained much more surprising images. Some were violent images from the game itself, while others seemed to be legitimate murder photos along with strange ones of a young child and a sad looking man.
“Tell me, where did you find these?”
“Inside the game?” Sher-Zhen replied, confused.
“No, no. I mean in what context.”
“Oh. Well, the violent game photos are from a secret ending in the game, while the real-life photos are from an unused secret ending.” Sher-Zhen sighed. “I should have brought you the transcript of that unused ending. I think you would have liked it.”
“No problem, I don’t know the game and anyways there’s always the future for such things. Go on.”
“As for these photos, I found them in a folder that has incomplete data. I can’t really work with anything that’s in there, but I assume it also had something to do with things that were scrapped from the game.”
“Ah. This seems like the type of thing one might report to the police.”
“I’m sure someone else is going to, sooner or later. Everyone’s looking to buy the game because of these pictures, but unfortunately the people who think this stuff is already in the game are the ones buying the most copies instead of the people who know where to look.”
“I see.” Yul-Hiis relaxed. “Thank you so much, Sher-Zhen. I’ve been curious about this for quite a while. I thought my searches would never come to fruition.”
Yul-Hiis was surprised to see Sher-Zhen’s face flush slightly. “You’re welcome, Yul-Hiis. Anything game-related you’re interested in, I can help. I’ve been able to get into even the games with the highest security to protect their product. I guess the skill’s not exactly the rarest one, though.”
“It’s a skill I lack, so it’s good enough for me,” Yul-Hiis said nonchalantly. “Well, since you’re here and our work is done, I might as well give you a prize as well for showing me such an interesting piece of media.”
“Prize?”
“Yes. That and lunch. Say, could I keep the USB stick? I’m sure Yong-Hin will be interested in seeing these contents too.”
Sher-Zhen sighed. “Sure, you can. Keep it forever if you like. I can always open up the game again if I want to see these things.”
Yul-Hiis flashed him a smile. He then head for the library room in the house. Along with a small set-up for reading, the library room’s main attraction was the several bookshelves that were stacked from top to bottom with all sorts of books, though a few shelves to the right were fairly bare, the last being entirely so. Yul-Hiis clapped and flew to check the shelves, looking for something that he was certain Sher-Zhen wouldn’t have seen.
‘Ah!’ His eye caught an old file he and Yong-Hin had put together as teenagers. The file documented various people they had recognized in a shady district much like the one he had discovered Startimatum in. He took the file and landed, but before he could leave the room, Sher-Zhen approached him himself.
“Anxious to see your prize, or anxious to pick one yourself? Sher-Zhen, I might think you’re taking this a little too seriously. Most of our data is actually relatively silly.”
“I know that’s not all the case, Yul-Hiis. And I wasn’t exactly here because of the prize.”
“Oh?”
Sher-Zhen looked away from him. “I was just thinking about something.”
“What about? Typically I’m good at picking up on emotions, but I’m still no mind reader. I can see that you’re tense, though.”
“Of course I am…I want to say something I don’t think I should say.”
Yul-Hiis smirked. “Say it, then. The unsaid just makes me antsy and Yong-Hin always complains about it the next morning.”
“Yong-Hin, huh…” Sher-Zhen sighed. “Yul-Hiis, once in the past, did you say that you and your wife have a bit of an…open relationship?”
“Slightly so. The terms are more on a case-by-case basis but in essentiality we either do it together…heh heh…or are present or otherwise witnesses of what goes on with someone else. Why do you ask?” Yul-Hiis blinked. “Oh, I see how this is. Sher-Zhen, you are absolutely the last man I expected to approach me for this.”
“So you figured it out…”
“Nobody asks me or Yongie that question without either one, wanting to sleep with us or two, being disturbed by it. Since you sounded apprehensive, I naturally assumed it was the former.”
“You’d be right, except it’s a little more complicated than just that. I mean…I just…”
“I can see what path this is going down,” Yul-Hiis sighed. “Fine, tell me what it is you want, Sher-Zhen, and I will talk with Yong-Hin about it later.”
Sher-Zhen looked uncertain, and instead of responding with words, responded by giving Yul-Hiis a kiss.
“There’s a reason I didn’t want to say anything, Yul-Hiis,” he said. “I don’t want Yong-Hin to be a part of it.”
“Is that so…” Yul-Hiis touched his lips. “I’m afraid I’ll have to turn you down, then.”
Sher-Zhen looked dejected. “I’m sorry, my friend. Whether all you want is a night with me, or if you want something more–well, I certainly can’t give you that second one. Even having been with other people during my marriage, Yong-Hin has always been involved in the situation, and I could never give myself emotionally to anyone aside from her. And I wouldn’t want it any other way.”
“I see.”
“Still, color me surprised when it comes to you feeling that way. I wouldn’t have expected that.”
“Well, I’m not surprised, though maybe it’s because it’s me. Yong-Hin is a lucky woman, Yul-Hiis.”
“I’m the lucky one.”
“Yes, I suppose you are…”
“Don’t look so dejected, Sher-Zhen. I’m not the type of person who is too fazed by people having feelings for me. Other people say it won’t change a thing when really it will. Well, I give you my guarantee that it won’t change a thing.” He winked at Sher-Zhen, who chuckled. “Now, instead of dwelling on this topic, why don’t we focus instead on your prize?”
“I’d be glad to. I don’t want to be the only one doing any data sharing today, after all.”

—–
“Interesting files you have here, Yul-Hiis,” Yong-Hin said later that night. “Interesting indeed.”
“I’ll give credit where credit is due. Sher-Zhen is skilled in his trade. He could make a steady living if he could commit to a job.”
“A shame. I really would like him as a worker at the data storage.” She glanced at Yul-Hiis. “Now, about the part involving him wanting to have sex with you…”
“Oh, that? I turned him down, I told you already.”
“No, I heard that part. But if the boy’s so eager, why not give him what he wants?”
“I fear that’s what might change an unchanged friendship into a changed one, at least on his side. Unfortunately, Normals take sex far more seriously than we do, for the most part.”
“No, that isn’t what I meant. I was going to ask, do you think he is the type for a threesome? You could always accept his offer if he would be up for that.”
Yul-Hiis shrugged. “I wouldn’t know on that front, but one thing I can tell you, girls are not his type.”
“Ah, I see. What a shame.”
“Don’t worry about it, Yong-Hin. And if you’re feeling so antsy, that reminds me of a surprise I have for you in the bedroom…”
Yong-Hin giggled. “Oh, Yul-Hiis, you pervert.”
“You more than me, Yongie. Admit that.”
“Oh, I do. Have you ever heard me deny it?”

30.576.Harem Master San-Kyung

The La-Iin Series
Chapter 576
“Harem Master San-Kyung”

“Gee, it feels like it’s been a long time since we just hung out casually like this. Speaking of, when’s the last time you drank something that wasn’t water?”
“How am I supposed to know?”
Dosa-Mina relaxed. “Yeah, I guess it doesn’t really matter. Still, I think you should try a milkshake someday, San-Kyung. I know you’re no fan of sweets, but I think you might like it despite that.”
“I heard some milkshakes have things in them I can’t drink.”
“That’s true.” Dosa-Mina took a sip of his milkshake. “You know, San-Kyung, going out like this again made me think of something. Even though you only like me and your parents, there are more people that like you than you might expect!”
“Huh?”
“Well, to list off the most extreme examples, there’s La-Iin, and Yukkini, and Ely–er–”
“I think I know who you’re talking about,” San-Kyung said with a grimace.
“Those three all like you, and quite a bit too. It’s weird considering their personalities. …well, actually, it’s not all that weird with La-Iin. And it’s not all that weird with Yukkini either, at least it doesn’t seem that way on the outside. I never did know her all that well.”
“I don’t want to think about this. I’m aware other people like me aside from you and my parents. But that doesn’t mean I like them back.”
“Yeah, that’s obvious. And even if you did like one of them the other two would still be left in the dust. Say, San-Kyung, do you think you’ll ever want to enter a relationship?”
“No.”
“That was pretty blunt. Ah well, let’s get our minds off of this silly subject and just enjoy our day out!”

That night, as he prepared for bed, Dosa-Mina’s words from earlier were on San-Kyung’s mind.
‘He’s right, it doesn’t make much sense. Most other people dislike me, and that’s the way things should be. I don’t understand. Well, it doesn’t matter anyway, but still, why?’
The question was still on his mind as he laid down for the night.
‘It just doesn’t make any sense. Maybe it’s because of my grades. Or my looks. But I definitely wouldn’t understand why they would like that…’

***

“Look at the sky, San-Kyung! It’s so nice and blue today! Ah, I think today will be another one of the same school days!”
“…what?”
Dosa-Mina cleared his throat. “You know, more of the same. I’m surprised you haven’t dropped out of school yet, speaking of. After all, do you even learn anything here anymore? It seems like our recent lessons are always below your level.”
“Ask yourself the same question first.”
“Yeah, I suppose you have a point. Well, it’s just a year and so left, so I suppose it’s not worth it to just drop out now.” Dosa-Mina trotted ahead of him. “I’m gonna head in early so I can get some stuff done before class. See you soon, San-Kyung!”
“See you,” he said with a sigh. In that school Dosa-Mina was the only saving grace. Everyone else annoyed him, and it didn’t help that he had ended up becoming arguably the most popular student in his class. Be it for his grades, his attitude, or just because he was an Aesthetically Normal Animated Pumpkin, he had a lot of fans, and the fact that Dosa-Mina could not be in the same class as him frustrated him to no end.
Moreso than the students who speculated about him or the students who begged him to help them study, there were three specific students in his class that angered him more than all the others.
“Ah! M-M-Molshei? I…I didn’t mean to bump into you…”
Deki-Tyunri fidgeted in front of San-Kyung, hiding his mouth with his wing. San-Kyung ignored him and walked right past him.
“O-oh! Molshei? Actually, it’s good that I ran into you….I, um, made something for you to eat during lunch today…”
“I don’t eat.”
“I know you don’t usually, but I thought you might like it.” He lowered his head, visibly blushing. “I heard about how much you liked the animal organ platter they served at the school dance last year, so I was inspired by that…”
“I don’t eat.”
“Please, give it a try. I did my best to recreate it just for you!” Deki-Tyunri ran ahead of San-Kyung, holding the lunch he had made in his mouth. “Pweef?”
“No.”
“How disrespectful of you, Molshei!” San-Kyung flinched. “That boy put his heart and soul into that lunch and you’re just rejecting it?”
Deki-Tyunri peeked past San-Kyung, and both spotted a half-Goathoof girl who was standing a distance behind them, Yukkini Kai-Rin.
“You shut up, hypocrite!”
“Tsk tsk, Molshei, don’t turn to insults, it makes you look petty. And I know how I feel, but I also fully approve of your love for Elyshen!”
“I don’t love Elyshen!”
Deki-Tyunri put the lunch down. “I don’t mind that you don’t, but you should at least give yourself some nutrition. Otherwise you’ll start to look emaciated…”
San-Kyung huffed. “I eat enough to prevent that!”
“Oh, Molshei, you should give him a shot. I’ve given you my blessing.” She grabbed onto her arm and pressed her chest against it. San-Kyung began to rapidly strike his hand.
“I don’t need your blessing!”
“Oh, Molshei…” Deki-Tyunri’s eyes began to sparkle. “Does that mean what I think it means?”
“It means the opposite of what you think it means!”
“At least eat his lunch, Molshei. Why let it go to waste? And besides, he’s right, do you want to look emaciated?”
“YOU!”
San-Kyung let out a loud groan. Deki-Tyunri and Kai-Rin turned around.
“How dare you! You two-timing shitface!”
“Great. Just great. If you had let me go to the classroom, I could’ve avoided this, but no…
“Cahongyun, please. Molshei is not your boyfriend, and besides, all we were trying to do was get him to eat Elyshen’s lunch.”
La-Iin huffed. “I don’t buy it! Why are your boobies pressed against his arm, then!?”
San-Kyung broke free of Kai-Rin’s grasp. “That’s it, San-Kyung! You need to learn your place! And I know the perfect way to teach you.”
She flew towards him, but he rose vines quick enough to block her off. He wrapped the vines around her and trapped her in place. Her face flushed bright pink.
“Oh, San-Kyung, I can’t believe you’d show your vines in public!”
“Now it’s worse.” San-Kyung turned away from them. “I’m going to class.”
Deki-Tyunri, Kai-Rin, and La-Iin–they were the bane of his existence, and he had to deal with that same situation nearly every day.

During classes, San-Kyung tried to ignore the trio to keep from causing any noise in front of other students. It worked, for the most part: Deki-Tyunri had stopped trying to give him the lunch, and Kai-Rin only stopped by to tell him he had made a mistake. It was La-Iin who was problematic–she had started watching him like a hawk.
“I won’t let you cheat on me again!” Her words caught the attention of nearby students, and San-Kyung was uncertain of whether he should retaliate with violence or ignore her. Luckily for him, when the teacher arrived, she was forced to go back to her seat, and though she tried again that time too she was forced to go back to her seat.
When school came to an end for the day, San-Kyung immediately set to head home. After the earlier incident with Deki-Tyunri, Kai-Rin and La-Iin, he was looking forward to just spending time with Dosa-Mina and testing out his driving skills before relaxing at home with one of his favorite violent books.
Unfortunately, it soon became obvious that the situation would not be that simple.
“Molshei! I, um, know you don’t like me…that way and all…but you still shouldn’t let the food go to waste.”
“You eat it.”
“Please, Molshei, he made it just for you. And it’s animal organs~”
“I don’t care.”
“San-Kyung, stop hanging out with these fools. I don’t trust you around them. The two of us should head home alone. I know a secret path.”
“Shut up. You’re not my girlfriend. Look, all three of you just leave me alone, or I’ll disfigure your bodies so badly you’ll never be positively identified.”
“You wouldn’t take me down that easily!” La-Iin yelled.
“You couldn’t do that. Love me or hate me you’ve known me for a while.” Kai-Rin said.
“P-please….my grandmother would never mistake even my badly burned corpse.”
San-Kyung huffed. “Just leave me alone!”
“Molshei…” Kai-Rin’s tone became serious and she stopped in place, causing Deki-Tyunri and La-Iin to do the same. San-Kyung continued to walk on, at least until he was pulled backwards by Kai-Rin. “You can’t just walk away from this situation. Here you have three people who love you and would do anything for you.”
“So you say!” La-Iin complained.
“Object as much as you like, but you are an only child. It might do to continue on the Molshei family name with one of us. Granted, we’re all only children too, but the point is that our lineages will continue on. So–”
“SHUT UP!” San-Kyung rose vines from the ground and wrapped all three of them in them.
“M-M-M-Molshei–!” Deki-Tyunri’s face turned bright red and he seemed to nearly faint.
“Oh, Molshei, I don’t–I–” Kai-Rin’s face had also become red. San-Kyung glared at them.
“San-Kyung, you pervert,” La-Iin said slyly, smiling, at least until she noticed that Deki-Tyunri and Kai-Rin were in the same situation; then, she began to squirm.
The trio began to make strange noises, so unsettled, San-Kyung decided to let them down.
“San-Kyung! Sorry I’m late. A little student called Vampiris was asking for my help…” Dosa-Mina stared at them. “What’s going on?”
“You’re the one who said today’s going to be another of the same school days. What do you think!?”
“Oh no. It’s the option we all forgot about.” Kai-Rin covered her mouth. “Molshei, you get one more option, now that we think about it.”
“What are you talking about?”
Kai-Rin walked up to Dosa-Mina. “Dslellular, we need you to tell us.” She, Deki-Tyunri and La-Iin watched him with a serious glare. “Do you love Molshei romantically?”
“Huh?” Dosa-Mina backed away from her, then smiled. “Well, the truth to that is that I…”

—–
San-Kyung sat up and gasped. He got out of bed and wandered around the house, trying to ease his urge to strike his hands and set the house on fire. In the midst of his wandering, he failed to notice that he had walked into his parents’ room.
“San-Kyung?” Del-Kyuus yawned. “What are you doing in here?”
“Mom?”
“Did you have a nightmare?” Salsh-Era asked. “It’s alright, San-Kyung…”
The both of them tiredly levitated out of bed. San-Kyung felt immensely embarrassed. After the both of them had given him a pat on the head, he head back to his room, flustered and humiliated.

10.556.Recovery from Rejection

The La-Iin Series
Chapter 556
“Recovery from Rejection”

Since the day of her rejection, Mit-Sun had found that her conversations with Uil-Cur, which were formerly fairly common, hadn’t happened in the week since then. Some days they had greeted each other, but Mit-Sun was always too uncomfortable to continue a conversation, and Uil-Cur always sprinted away right after as if he didn’t want to see Mit-Sun.
‘This isn’t right. I know the situation’s awkward, but my intentions weren’t to ruin our whole friendship over this. At this rate we’ll end up drifting apart because we don’t know how to talk to each other anymore. Gahh, it can’t be that hard! I can chastise Asul-Zenza as much as I want now without feeling awkward about it! Though maybe that’s because I don’t like him anymore….geez, why does this have to be so hard…’
“Stewing over something, Cahongyun?”
Leirhyn’s voice snapped her out of her thoughts and also startled her. “Oh…hello, Leirhyn. You don’t usually approach me yourself anymore, do you?”
“No, not usually. Geez, you sound depressed. Judging by the way you and Haner are flitting around each other I’m gonna take a wild guess and say things aren’t all that well between you.”
“It’s not exactly that things aren’t going well, it’s just that they’re….awkward. I’d talk to you about it, but it’s a little personal.”
“That’s alright. But it’s really weird to see you two like this. You were gettin’ pretty chummy there, after all.” Leirhyn’s mouth turned to a wide smile, and Mit-Sun couldn’t help but feel that she looked incredibly suspicious.
“Yeah, we were. No offense, but I think I was starting to get closer to him than I am to you.”
“Absolutely none taken,” Leirhyn said. “I could see that you two had something there. I know you don’t want to talk about it, but I hope everything clears up. I’d like to see you two hanging out again!”
“I’d like to hang out again…maybe I should talk to him. It just feels so strange…”
“Well, if you want to hang out with him again talking to him is the reasonable next option. Otherwise you won’t get anywhere. Oops, I should get back to my post. All the best, Cahongyun! Hope things work out with Haner!”
“Me too,” Mit-Sun sighed. ‘I really do need to talk with Uil-Cur. But even if I can get over how I feel to talk to him, will he be able to?’

***

“While it isn’t usual for me to bother an employee without bringing them first to my office, I figured this warranted the change in protocol. Haner, you’re one of my better employees most of the time. You’re efficient and do your work accurately and quickly. I admire you, but lately some of your work has been sloppy. Your Saturday work is still fine, I have no problems there. But if this sloppy display continues for another week I’m docking your next paycheck!”
“I’ll try and improve!” Uil-Cur flustered. “I have been working hard, trust me, Mrs. Eteibreit. It’s just that I’ve been having a few mishaps lately. I don’t know what’s wrong…”
Eteibreit narrowed her eyes. “Don’t let other employees distract you, Uil-Cur. And it’s best to try and empty your mind before you work here. I will not pay decent vuyong to employees whose jobs would be better done by a three-year-old!”
Eteibreit clapped her hands and flew off.
“Decent vuyong, my ass,” Uil-Cur muttered. He sighed. “Like I could’ve told her the real reason anyway. Pretty difficult to work when you’re crying all the time….oh, my sister will be mad at me if my pay gets docked. But what does it affect her!? She doesn’t live with me anymore!”
“Uil-Cur?”
“Yipe!” Uil-Cur flew above the tallest shelf in the room. “M-M-Mit-Sun! Er, I’m sorry, but I’m still on my shift, I can’t talk now!”
“That’s alright. I can wait. I’ve waited before.”
“N-no, you have La-Iin to think about, don’t waste your time on me! Besides, if you really need to talk we can talk over the phone!”
Mit-Sun sighed. “I’m waiting for you whether you like it or not, Uil-Cur. Don’t try and avoid me. We have a problem and we need to discuss it.”
Uil-Cur sighed. ‘That’s easy for her to say! She is the rejector, not the rejectee. Oh, I can’t stay mad at Mit-Sun, but does she have any idea of how I’m feeling? I need to avoid her for my own safety, damn it!’
Uil-Cur zipped around the room as he finished his work for the day, fueled by conflicting feelings and thoughts. Once he was done, he left the room and tried to bolt past Mit-Sun, only to be grabbed by the collar before he could make it too far ahead of her.
“Please don’t avoid me, Uil-Cur. I really want to talk to you.”
“I know you do,” he sighed. “And I figure I know what about. But it’s not been easy for me, Mit-Sun. I need some time alone.”
“It’s been awkward for both of us, Uil-Cur. But I miss hanging out with you all the time. I don’t want our friendship to disappear because we don’t know how to talk to each other any more. Since having La-Iin friendships haven’t come easy to me. I’m social enough, but I don’t bond easily. You’re one of the most fun people I’ve met and, and I really liked hanging out with you. I understand what happened. I know I hurt you. But I don’t want us to lose what we have because it didn’t go any further than that.”
“Do you think our friendship is so fragile it will break from spending time apart from each other?”
“No! That’s not what I thought at all! I was worried about how awkward we’ve been between each other, not the amount of time we’ve spent apart! And I’m worried about you, too. I still want to be your friend. But what if I hurt you enough to make you not want to be mine?”
“I do still want to be your friend, Mit-Sun! But I got my hopes up too far. I was really thinking that by your attitude you would reciprocate the way I felt about you and that didn’t end up happening. I’m disappointed, I’m frustrated! I got chewed out by Mrs. Eteibreit for doing a sloppy job! I haven’t been able to handle myself!”
Mit-Sun flinched. “I’m sorry…”
“It isn’t that easy, Mit-Sun. I do still want to be your friend. I don’t want to lose what we had before either because it’s all we had. But I don’t know what’s better for me! Maybe avoiding you will only make me miss you along with being burned, but how do I know that spending time with you won’t make me feel worse? I’m too scared to try. I…I’ve had feelings for other women before, but you’re the first I actually said anything to, because I got in over my head and thought you would reciprocate. I was an idiot.”
“What’s idiotic about taking a chance?”
“It was idiotic to not see that you obviously didn’t feel the same way. Look, Mit-Sun, I hope we can go back to normal someday soon, but I don’t think today is the day.” He took off, breaking free from Mit-Sun’s grasp on his collar.
“Someone’s having romance troubles, I see.”
Mit-Sun jumped. “Mrs. Eteibreit?”
“I hope he didn’t honestly think I wasn’t hovering over him. I was curious to find out what was causing him to do such a poor job and see if I could beat him into shape. And what do I find but he’s taken an interest in my most poor worker?”
“You had no right to eavesdrop on us.”
“No right? This is my building. That’s like telling someone in their own house they didn’t have the right to overhear you moaning in their bedroom. Ridiculous. But it sounds like quite the drama went down between you two.”
“I’m not going to talk about it with you. I’m sorry, Mrs. Eteibreit, but it’s personal.”
“Oh, that’s fine. I overheard enough to form my own opinions about it anyway. You really should stop badgering the poor man about what happened. People all handle rejection differently. And you can promise as much as you want that it won’t change things but that isn’t always the case. You two might end up drifting apart regardless.”
“…”
“The poor man is so devastated. Who knows how he’ll react from there? He could stay fixated on you or turn to the next woman who makes him feel loved. He could end up going back to normal….or he could become bitter at you for your rejection regardless of how logical it is. Don’t cringe at me, Cahongyun. It’s fully possible things won’t work out anymore. You should have prepared yourself for that when you told him you didn’t love him back. But if you’re so worried, you could always start a relationship of convenience. He gets “love” and you get to spend time with him again.”
“I couldn’t do that!”
“Oh? Sometimes it does help people actually reciprocate another’s feelings. Of course it could also show you another side of him you don’t care for.”
“Look, our morals and beliefs are different, Mrs. Eteibreit. And I’ll keep being hopeful that we can go back to normal.”
“Fine, fine, believe what you want. Maybe you’ll be lucky and it all will work out the way you want. But I’ll give you some less-blunt advice: try if you want to to repair your friendship, but don’t keep badgering him when he’s obviously upset. That will only make him really bitter towards you. And accept the fact that he’s having a hard time staying just friends with you. Even if your relationship can repair, it will never be exactly the same.”
Eteibreit flew off.
‘Is it possible our relationship won’t repair?’ Mit-Sun wondered. ‘Ohh, I can’t stand this. Why did you have to go and confess, Uil-Cur…’

—–
“What’s the face for, Mama? It’s annoying.”
“Ha ha, how funny,” Mit-Sun said dryly.
“It wasn’t supposed to be funny.”
“I wasn’t talking about your words. You’re the one who didn’t want me to be friends with Uil-Cur, well guess what, maybe we won’t be any more! Are you happy now, La-Iin!? I’ve had to make a ton of sacrifices for your sake and now it seems like I won’t get that friendship back! So are you happy with yourself!?”
La-Iin flinched. “You don’t need to take it out on me, Mama.”
“You’re the one who kept badgering him! Who knows, maybe it was you who gave him the wrong idea! I wouldn’t have had to defend him so much if it weren’t for you! I hope you’re happy with yourself.”
La-Iin’s face contorted. “Well, I’m not happy with your stupid dinner, that’s for sure!” She left the table. Choungetsu stared after her, whimpering.
“And now you see another reason I despise that woman: blaming her problems on you.”
La-Iin didn’t respond. She ran to her room mired in fury.

28.544.My Darling, Mit-Sun–Part 2

The La-Iin Series
Chapter 544
“My Darling, Mit-Sun–Part 2”

Mit-Sun sighed. Ever since Uil-Cur had confessed his feelings for her, his confession had been replaying on repeat in her head.
“I knew this from almost the start, Mama. I figured Haner either wanted to kill you or was in love with you. Why do you think I hated him so much?”
“I guess it makes sense now,” Mit-Sun sighed.
“Now that you know, I hope you plan on telling him no soon.”
Mit-Sun didn’t respond. La-Iin began to glare.
“Well!?”
“I don’t know, La-Iin. Besides, this isn’t any of your business.”
“It is my business! If you say yes to Haner, you might marry him! If you marry him and he becomes my step-Dami…”
La-Iin’s wings were flapping wildly. Mit-Sun was startled. She wasn’t used to seeing such emotion on La-Iin’s face. ‘If even her face is giving away how she feels, she must be pretty angry…’
“I’m sorry, La-Iin. There’s nothing I can tell you.”
La-Iin gave no further response after that; instead, she stormed off.
Mit-Sun was in shock at the idea that Uil-Cur had feelings for her, but also felt as though she should have seen it coming. Each time she thought back on his flirtatious nature she felt stupid for not realizing it.
‘But that’s not the issue here! Uil-Cur feels that way towards me, but what do I feel towards him?’
Mit-Sun realized that in truth, she had never exactly figured that one out. She knew she liked Uil-Cur and found him to be fun to hang around, but were those feelings potentially romantic or completely platonic? Was she trying to deny her feelings for him for La-Iin’s sake, or was it possible she was trying to contemplate having feelings for him for his sake?
Mit-Sun heaved a sigh. Whatever her answer was, it still flustered her to think that Uil-Cur loved her.

***

Since confessing his feelings to Mit-Sun, Uil-Cur had felt anxious. Each moment that passed by his feelings seemed to change within a second. At one moment he felt that Mit-Sun was trying to prolong the time before her answer to spare his feelings, while another he wondered if she was simply feeling shy about the idea of him sharing her feelings.
“Brother, you can’t keep shaking like that. If you do that there won’t be many girls who like you.”
“What?”
“There are a lot of girls in Bledger who like guys whose personality is consistent. Although there are some who go for the whole hidden-side thing. Anyway, normally you exude an air of confidence. Don’t stop that or you might turn some girls away.”
“Oh, come on, I’m only around you. I’m better at controlling myself in public. I just feel very comfortable with my sister, is all.”
“That’s good. Just givin’ you advice.”
As his sister turned to leave, the phone began to ring. Groaning, she went to pick it up. “Yeah? Hello? ….hey bro, I think it’s for you!”
She didn’t need to say anything further–Uil-Cur rushed to the phone and snatched it out of her hand. She sneered at him before walking away.
“Hello?”
“Hello, Uil-Cur? This is you, right?”
“Yes, it is. I’m surprised you called.”
“How else was I supposed to reach you? Listen, I want to talk with you. Let’s go down by the park to do this. It’ll feel tacky over the phone.”
“Er, alright.”
‘Good luck, big brother,’ his sister thought.

***

Uil-Cur took several deep breaths on his way to the park. By the time he arrived there, Mit-Sun was already standing there and waiting for him, a distant expression on her face. She waved to him as he landed.
“I suppose this is it,” Uil-Cur sighed. “I’m ready for whatever response you give me, Mit-Sun. So say what you will.”
“Since when did I say this had anything to do with your confession?” Mit-Sun asked. Uil-Cur’s eyes widened, but he let out a sigh when he noticed Mit-Sun start to giggle. “Just kidding. It’s a little humor before my answer.”
“Sorry, Mit-Sun, I’m just so anxious to hear your response…”
“I’m sure you are,” she sighed. “Well…I had to give it a lot of thought. I realized I wasn’t exactly sure how to feel about your confession. Well, aside from obviously being flustered…that’s why I left you yesterday instead of giving you an answer right on the spot. Also, I haven’t been sure about how to feel about the idea of getting into another relationship. After La-Iin’s father and having to raise her, I’ve been reluctant about the idea of dating anyone else, so I had to think over a lot of things relating to both of those. I’m sure if I had been more certain, you would have gotten an answer right then and there.”
“I see,” Uil-Cur said. “…not to be a bother, but could you give me your answer already? Waiting to hear all you have to say is just making me more nervous…”
Mit-Sun glanced down at her feet. “I really do like you, Uil-Cur. You’re one of my best friends, and goodness knows I don’t have enough of those lately…but…I’m going to have to say that I don’t feel the same. I can’t envision going out with you and getting married or any of that stuff. All the things that made me know I liked La-Iin’s father–back when I liked him, anyway–I just don’t have them with you.”
Uil-Cur’s head dropped. “I don’t want this to be the end of our friendship, though! Even though I’m not in love with you, you still mean a lot to me. Without you I’d be in a much worse place right now. And I might have other people in my life who’ll stand by me but I think you’re definitely the most loyal. I know this isn’t the response you wanted to hear, but please, can you stay by me anyway?”
“…I wasn’t going to leave even if you did say no. I never intended on it. I’ll take any chances I can to spend time with you.”
Mit-Sun smiled. “And it’s not the answer I wanted to hear, but, well, I expected it. The closer we got, the more hopeful I was that you might like me back. And I know nothing of how you act while in love. I just assumed it was similar to my own behavior, which led me to believe you didn’t feel the same way. But now that I know, I don’t have to worry about it anymore.”
“I’m sorry. I’m sure someday you’ll meet someone who’s good for you.”
Uil-Cur smiled. “Niceties like that aren’t going to work at this point, Mit-Sun. Still, if you’ll allow me to be optimistic…do you think your feelings will ever change? Do you think it could be possible this is just for now? No, that’s being too hopeful…”
“I don’t know, Uil-Cur. The future is the future. If I ever start feeling differently about you, I’ll let you know. Hopefully if that day ever comes you’ll still feel the same way about me.”
“I bet I will.”
“But for now, this is my answer. Still, let’s stay friends, alright?”
Mit-Sun grabbed Uil-Cur’s hand. Uil-Cur sighed.
“I didn’t intend that to be any other way.”

***

“So, bro, how’d it go? …yo?”
Uil-Cur didn’t respond.
“…ouch. Sorry, bro.”
Uil-Cur began to tear up.
“Whoa, you don’t need to get teary-eyed on me! Hey, please don’t cry! I’m not good with crying people!”
His sister sighed. ‘He isn’t going to stop…geez, who’s the adult here?’ She reached up and pat him on the back. No words came to her to say to him, so she kept silent and let her brother cry.

When Mit-Sun arrived home, La-Iin was sitting on the couch with Choungetsu, a glare on her face.
“Oh, stop being antagonistic. I told him I didn’t feel the same way. Don’t you think if I said otherwise, he’d be here with me right now?”
“You made the right decision, Mama.”
“I know I did. Still, I felt bad for him. I’ve never actually been in the turning-down situation…I’ve never been in a situation like that before at all. I’m sure it hurt.”
“He can take the pain. He was an idiot to think you’d say yes. Besides, it’s not all that painful to hear a no. I hear them all the time.”
La-Iin’s eyes widened. “Don’t get any ideas!”
“Yeah, like I would.” Mit-Sun sighed. “I hope he cheers up soon. And I hope we can really stay friends even after all of this…”

—–
“To what to do I owe the phone call?”
“I wanted to tell you that she said no, Dami. You don’t have to worry about some other man becoming my step-Dami.”
“He confessed? Oh, well, I’m pleased! Still, I have to feel bad for him. I understand how painful it can be if someone tells you they don’t feel the same way. Especially if they’re someone with Mit-Sun’s bluntly harsh way of going about things.”
“…Dami, I have a question. You won’t get in a relationship with anyone else, will you?”
“I don’t plan on it, no. But a lot of things can happen in nine-hundred years, that’s for certain. Why do you ask? …you don’t want Mit-Sun and I to get back together, do you?”
“No!”
“Well good, because that is not happening.”
“Hm…”
“Something the matter, La-Iin?”
“It’s nothing. That’s all. Goodbye, Dami.” She hung up the phone.
‘I hope neither Mama or Dami ever gets in another relationship,’ La-Iin thought. ‘Maybe they’re annoying, but nobody else gets to pretend to be my Mama or Dami.’

27.543.My Darling, Mit-Sun–Part 1

The La-Iin Series
Chapter 543
“My Darling, Mit-Sun–Part 1”

‘What do I do if Mit-Sun accepts that man’s feelings?’
Since his phone call with La-Iin, Asul-Zenza had been lost in the thought of what might happen if Mit-Sun reciprocated Uil-Cur’s feelings. Even days later the idea still upset him. He could imagine him marrying Mit-Sun and getting to play an active part in her upbringing–even the reminder of La-Iin’s hatred towards the man barely made him feel better.
‘Even with Mit-Sun’s leniency, if a new man could play the role of La-Iin’s father, would she let him? Might she want to keep La-Iin around if she gave her a younger sibling? What will I do if she accepts his feelings and allows him to help raise La-Iin?’
He felt hopeless about the situation, yet he couldn’t stop thinking about it. He awaited eagerly for La-Iin’s next phone call, in which he hoped she would say that nothing had happened and that Mit-Sun was not getting married.

***

“Mit-Sun, I feel blessed this month. Why, earlier this year I never thought that just months later the two of us would be such good friends that we could hang out so many days in a month! It’s amazing to me. Long gone are the days where I admired you from afar–now, we spend lots of time together.”
“It’s been fun. Before I started spending more time with you I never even knew there were so many places to go in Bledger. Though I already knew about Sunday Daily.”
“Of course you did. When you live near this part of town, who doesn’t?”
“It’s also been nice to have someone who understands how I feel about Mrs. Eteibreit. I swear, I think she gets some sort of sick kick off of torturing us. You seem to handle her a little better, Uil-Cur. That’s something I kind of admire about you. Your personality, the way you act…it’s very fun. It’s kind of weird when you start acting more meek.”
“Aha ha, well, it happens sometimes. I get slightly embarrassed by the way I act sometimes. I’ve been called conceited a lot throughout my lifetime, but as I said, there’s nothing conceited about loving yourself. And it’s not like I’m putting myself on a pedestal above all others.”
“Yeah.” Mit-Sun sighed. “I wish La-Iin wouldn’t be so harsh towards you. She’s turning some of her anger towards you onto me. And that’s not the only reason I’m upset, not by a long shot, it’s just, I don’t know what made her hate you so much! And I know what you said about it seeming like you reminded her of someone she didn’t like, but that’s no excuse. I wouldn’t start mouthing off at a Catori-Demon on the street just because she’s the same species as Mrs. Eteibreit.”
“Well, she’s young. Young children can be irrational a lot of the time.”
“Yeah, I suppose so. I guess I should be more understanding of that–since the year I turned nineteen I haven’t really dealt with many young children, and she’s the only one I deal with on a daily basis. Still, it’s hard to deal with her. I know young children aren’t always as badly-behaved as she is. I met her best friend when she was younger than this and she’s one of the sweetest little girls I know. What happened with La-Iin? I treated her with kindness and what happened between me and her father happened when she was little.” Mit-Sun sighed. “Sorry to pile this on you, Uil-Cur…”
“It’s fine, Mit-Sun. It isn’t something I haven’t heard before. La-Iin is her own person. She might be at odds with you, but I don’t think she’ll ever hate you.”
“I must not be as confident as you are, then.”
“Like I said, she’s a young child. I may not have any experience when it comes to parenting, but I’ve dealt with my younger siblings for many years. They’ve stopped talking to me because I ate something they wanted to eat, or fought with me because I did something wrong that they never told me what it was. It happens. Don’t get down on yourself. You try your best and that is what matters. So have more confidence in your mothering–you don’t want a lack of confidence to bog you down, do you?”
“I suppose not,” Mit-Sun sighed. “Thank you, Uil-Cur. You know, I think you’ll be a great father if you ever decide to become one. I’m sure I’ll still be taking care of La-Iin for years to come–maybe you can give me some tips if you have a kid who ends up better behaved than her.”
Uil-Cur scratched the back of his neck. Seeing Mit-Sun’s innocent smile, hearing what she had to say, he was only reminded of his most recent visit to her house. ‘Should I try? Should I say something to her? I think I might have a chance. I suppose the worst is that she could say no…that or she could cut me off as a friend…’ Uil-Cur shook his head. ‘No. Mit-Sun is a kind woman. She would never do such a thing. I have to take my chances. After all, things don’t look so hopeless anymore. Maybe she likes me back…’
Uil-Cur glanced around him and took a deep breath. There were no people around him or Mit-Sun. He let out the breath.
“Mit-Sun, actually, there’s something I’ve been meaning to speak with you about.”
“Hm?”
“It was something your comment about me as a father reminded me of. And this is something I’ve wanted to bring up for a while, but I didn’t think there would be any benefit to either of us if I did so before. Now I feel confident that no matter what, the outcome will be fine, even if it’s not what I wanted.”
“What are you talking about, Uil-Cur? Can you get to the point?”
Uil-Cur sighed. “Well, I’ve wanted to be your friend for a long while, Mit-Sun, but there’s something else I’ve wanted for almost as long. After I got to know you better, I started to really like you. I had a high opinion of you since before we officially met, but once I really got to know you I knew that opinion was more well-founded than I expected. You’re a wonderful woman, Mit-Sun. Even when there are things you aren’t perfect at, you keep working hard at them anyway. It makes me sad when you say you have no confidence in some aspect of your mothering because I think it’s not a matter of you being a bad mother, it’s a matter of you don’t have it down perfect yet. And really, who ever would?”
“What are you trying to get at, Uil-Cur?” Mit-Sun asked.
“Well…as I got to know you and see how wonderful you are first-hand, I felt a little…differently about you…I was shy to admit it, but recently I thought to myself, with how kind you are I have nothing to worry about no matter what the outcome is. And, that is…I….I’m in love with you, Mit-Sun!”
Mit-Sun gave no response. She simply stared at Uil-Cur with wide eyes.
“I have been for a while. Perhaps even before I officially met you. You always sounded like the type of woman I would like, but the more I got to know you the more I knew that was true. I won’t ask you to give a specific answer, and you don’t have to answer now. I will still be your friend if you say no. And I would be glad to stay by you if you say yes. Well, I will either way, but you understand, right?”
Mit-Sun still didn’t respond. “Mit-Sun? I won’t be upset no matter what answer you give me, so please don’t just stand there. At least tell me if you don’t have an answer yet.”
“I…I…” Mit-Sun’s face flushed red. “I don’t know what to say, Uil-Cur. I can’t believe that flew over my head, how you felt…I always got this feeling you were flirting with me, but I thought it was just in your nature…”
“It is just in my nature. I’m as outgoing as they come and I still whimper like an introvert when I like a woman. I’d only be flirting with you if we were together, and that isn’t the case…right now,” he whispered to himself.
“You’re going to have to wait for me to think on this more, Uil-Cur. I–I just…”
Uil-Cur smiled. “I’ll wait as long as it takes, Mit-Sun. But don’t keep me waiting too long. I’ll get my hopes up and down and basically on a roller-coaster until you give me an answer. Oh, I feel much better having said all that!”
Mit-Sun shook her head. “I–I think I should go home!” She took off ahead of Uil-Cur.
“Be seeing you, Mit-Sun. I look forward to whatever response you give me.”

—–
“Hey, bro, you look kinda melancholy. Did something happen?”
“Ah, not really,” Uil-Cur sighed. “I’ve just been having hopeless fantasies about getting married and staring a family…”
“Who says they’re hopeless? You are pretty nice, bro. Some lady will like you someday, I bet.”
“You think so?”
“Mm-hm.”
Uil-Cur smiled. “I’m actually wondering if there’s some lady who likes me now…”
“Hm?”
“If she does, I think I’ll be a very happy man. Happier than I’ve ever been in my life.”
“Well, I hope she likes you back. But as payment for having this conversation, if she likes you and she marries you and you have kids I want to name your first one!”
“Aha ha, we’ll see about that one.”
His sister’s words sent Uil-Cur into a daydream about a life with Mit-Sun. Already he could imagine the two taking care of La-Iin and a further two children and living a happy life within the Cahongyun house. This time, he was so lost within the fantasy that he never chided himself for how ridiculous it might sound.
‘Perhaps this will come true soon…oh, Mit-Sun, I hope you feel the same as I do.’

18.534.Animosity from Suspicion

The La-Iin Series
Chapter 534
“Animosity from Suspicion”

“Mit-Sun, you look awfully happy today. What’s the occasion? Or, are you just happy because you are?”
Mit-Sun giggled. “It’s nothing, really. Just, I forgot how much fun going out could be. Having to take care of La-Iin, I haven’t been able to do much for myself lately. When we hang out together I get to go places La-Iin probably would never agree to go. Keeping her under wraps is hard.”
Uil-Cur scratched the back of his neck. “Always happy to be of assistance, Mit-Sun. My siblings told me I could be refreshing, but I never thought that would extend to another adult!”
“You can be pretty fun, Haner. So I want to ask: would you like to come over for dinner again tonight? I know La-Iin will hate it, but she’s been resisting all my attempts to bond with her lately. I really don’t think inviting you over again is going to make things any worse.”
“A-are you sure about that, Mit-Sun? She was pretty harsh towards me last time I came over.”
“La-Iin’s like that, but damn it, she can’t control who I make friends with as much as I can’t control who she makes friends with. I seriously don’t know what she has against you. She said something about male Sirens once, but I doubt she’s met another. I know you guys can be pretty rare.”
“It’s hard to think I’m technically somewhat rare. But I suppose that also comes from being an individual!”
“So, what do you say? Want to come over again? I could use a break from all her animosity and there’s not been much to do around the house lately.”
Uil-Cur gave a small smile. “Almost anything you ask me I would accept, Mit-Sun. I enjoy my time with you. I think you are…well, you’re the best friend I’ve ever had.”
“That’s sweet, Haner. Thanks. You’re a pretty great friend too.”
Uil-Cur began to flap his wings rapidly to calm him down. ‘Just because she smiles at you so much, it doesn’t mean anything! Quit getting your hopes up!’ Still, he couldn’t help but feel slightly excited at the sight of Mit-Sun’s casual smile.

***

“You seem pretty steamed up, La-Iin.”
“I am steamed up! I can’t stand it when Mama goes to spend time with Haner! Either she’s stupid or slowly she’s falling for his wiles. Well, either way she must be stupid, because if she’s falling for his wiles she’s delusional! If his wiles were so great I would be in love with him!”
“That’s….disturbing, to say the least. And that begs the question: if another man had really good wiles, would you like him better than San-Kyung?”
“No way, Bes-Isa. San-Kyung is my one and only. Mama is a fool. If she’s looking for what true love looks like, she should be looking in my direction.”
“Nobody who was in their right mind would take love tips from a stalkerish little kid…don’t look at me like that, La-Iin! I’m not saying your little thing for San-Kyung is little kiddy, I’m just saying you’re creepy.”
“I’ve heard what you’ve said about keeping girl slaves before. If anyone is creepy, it’s you!”
“Well, doesn’t that make me more evil!? I want girl slaves for my own use…heh heh….but you want San-Kyung to reciprocate your feelings and work equally by your side! What the hell’s with that!?”
“You should understand by now if you know me any, Bes-Isa. Besides, I would be in a higher position of power over San-Kyung anyway. But this wasn’t about him! I haven’t been able to make any progress with that depressio lately anyways. I’m getting burned up about Haner! Someday I’ll suck that guy’s blood and sing his own song back to him!”
“Tell me, do you think that would work?”
“It’s worth a shot, isn’t it?”
Before Bes-Isa could speak again, the door opened. La-Iin narrowed her eyes at Mit-Sun, then gasped when she noticed that Uil-Cur was right behind her.
“No!”
Mit-Sun scoffed. “Please, La-Iin.”
“H-hello there, La-Iin,” Uil-Cur said, sounding uncertain.
“No. Don’t even talk to me. Mama, you said you wanted to repair our bond. You’re on the wrong path. Continue to show me your stupidity and I’ll lock you in a high-security cage when the time comes, if there’s even any of you left to lock in a cage!”
She stomped off, Bes-Isa in tow. She could hear a faint conversation between Mit-Sun and Uil-Cur, but she couldn’t be bothered to listen in to hear what it was. She was infuriated that Mit-Sun would even bring Uil-Cur over in the first place.

“I had a feeling this would happen,” Mit-Sun sighed. “Sorry about that, Haner.”
“No, there’s no trouble, Mit-Sun. Just as you had that feeling, so did I. She didn’t take well to me last time I was over either.”
“Well, she can go off and do her own thing if she wants to. Is there something you’d like to do?”
“Much as I’d like to spend time with you right at this moment, I want to try something, Mit-Sun. I’m going to see if I can get through to La-Iin.”
“Why?”
“The two of us are friends! I know it’s not all that important, but I don’t want to strain your relationship with your daughter just because she doesn’t like me. We can spend time together after this–after all, we do have plenty of time!”
“I suppose so,” Mit-Sun said. “Just don’t take too long, alright?”
‘She really does want to spend time with me,’ Uil-Cur thought. ‘Now I really do have to do this. With how she’s acting perhaps La-Iin may someday really be my step-daught…no, don’t think that, Uil-Cur! Stop it!’
He pushed the idea away as he fluttered after La-Iin.
“No flying in my house, Haner,” Mit-Sun said. Uil-Cur landed. “Sorry about that, Mit-Sun.”
“Just don’t do it again.”

“Haner won’t get to Mama first, I’ll show her, if anyone’s going to harm her bodily, it’ll be me, just wait and see….”
“I get that you’re angry, but do you have to pull on me like this!? I can feel pain, you know!”
“Heh heh heh…” The dark look in La-Iin’s eyes told Bes-Isa she wasn’t likely to be released soon.
From behind her La-Iin could hear footsteps. She glared over her shoulder. “Don’t bother reasoning with me, Mama. I will always and forever hate Haner. I–”
La-Iin’s eyes widened when she caught sight of Uil-Cur. “I know you’re not all that fond of me, La-Iin, and I respect that. But I don’t think you should get all so mad at Mit-Sun because of this.”
“Don’t you even dare talk to me, fool!” La-Iin hissed. Uil-Cur sighed. “Please, La-Iin, make this easy on me. If it makes you feel better, this friendship started because of me.”
“Take advantage of my Mama’s stupidity, will you!? Well, I’m not as stupid as she is!”
“Mit-Sun is not stupid! You shouldn’t say such things about your own mother.”
“Why should I listen to you!? You don’t matter to me. You’re just trash.”
Uil-Cur flinched. “I don’t know what I did to earn your ire, La-Iin, but I don’t want this to be how it is. I don’t want you to hate Mit-Sun because you hate me.”
“Quit referring to me by name. You don’t have the permission to do so.” La-Iin’s wings began to flap wildly. “I know your aim, Haner. I know what plans you have for my Mama. I can see them from a mile away. For you see, I’m an expert when it comes to planning things.”
Uil-Cur blinked at her. “What do you mean? I don’t have any plans for Mit-Sun.”
“Do you think I’m stupid!? I know wiles better than most others! You can only have two possible plans for Mama. Either way I won’t accept you!”
“I honestly have no idea what you’re talking about.”
“You won’t fool me, Haner! Until the moment she proves otherwise, I’ll hope that Mama’s not so stupid to let her emotions fall victim to your plans!”
Uil-Cur blinked. ‘What is she talking about?’ As La-Iin bared her fangs, it clicked in his mind, and his face turned a dark red.
“I–it isn’t–it’s not–look, I think you have the wrong idea, La-Iin…”
“Your reaction only proves to me I have the right idea! Stop it, Haner! Or I’ll give you a reason to regret it!”
Uil-Cur felt completely embarrassed. “I…it’s…there’s nothing to worry about on that front, La-Iin. And if that’s making you angry at Mit-Sun, then you’re being irrational. Be angry at me all you want, but this has nothing to do with her…”
La-Iin’s nose wrinkled.
“Haner? La-Iin?”
Mit-Sun’s voice broke into the argument. “Haner, I heard arguing. If you can’t get through to her, there’s no reason to argue with her.”
“All the arguing was coming from her side, though.”
“La-Iin, cut Haner some slack. I get it–you don’t like him. You’ve made that painfully clear.”
“Apparently not clear enough to get through your thick skull!” La-Iin yelled. She stomped off, Bes-Isa in tow.
“I swear, one of these days you’re going to kill me.”
“I’m sorry, Mit-Sun. I didn’t mean to fight with her. She hates me more than I’d expect a seven-year-old to…and now I think I understand why.”
“Why?”
Uil-Cur’s face flushed. “I–I think I just remind her of someone she doesn’t like at her school.”
“Huh?”
“That’s the impression I got, anyway,” he sighed. “So, um, Mit-Sun–about that hanging out?”
“Oh, yeah. Well, there’s plenty I can show you around the house. We have time until dinner to just look around, so tell me where you want to go. Although obviously La-Iin’s room is off-limits.”
“I figured. Well, anywhere you want to show me is fine.”
“Well then, we might as well stop by the miscellaneous room, then,” Mit-Sun said. “Come on!”
From her bedroom La-Iin could hear their conversation. She grit her teeth.
‘What can I do now? Maybe I should turn to Dami for advice on this…’

—–
Dinner came and went, and no matter how hard she tried Mit-Sun simply could not manage to get La-Iin to sit at the table while Uil-Cur was there. Even sending him away didn’t seem to work–La-Iin still refused to sit anywhere near him and instead took her food away and into her room. Mit-Sun lacked the energy to fight with her over it, and so opted against it.
“Thank you for the dinner, Mit-Sun. You are an excellent cook.”
“Not a problem. It was nice to have you over, even though La-Iin was acting up. Maybe next time, we should hang out at your house.”
“Maybe. I hope you can make up with her.”
“Me too. Well, I guess I’ll see you tomorrow, Uil-Cur. Good night.”
Uil-Cur froze and blinked at Mit-Sun. “What? Did I say something wrong?”
“Er, um, no, not at all!” He flustered. “Did I give you a weird look? I’m sorry, I’m just used to you saying Haner…”
“Oh…well, you keep telling me I can call you Uil-Cur, so I suppose it just came out.”
“Well, I am okay with you calling me that,” he said. “Er, I have to go now. See you, Mit-Sun.”
“See you, Haner. Er, Uil-Cur.”
As Uil-Cur walked out the house, he smiled to himself. ‘I wonder if I might just have a chance after all…maybe, just maybe.’
Remembering Leirhyn’s words, he began to feel confident as he fluttered off towards home.

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.”

26.511.From One Friend to Another

The La-Iin Series
Chapter 511
“From One Friend to Another”

As Uil-Cur finished up his work for the day, his anticipation grew and he began to work faster. Recently, most days after his shift, Mit-Sun would approach him and talk with him for a short while. Even on the days she wouldn’t, she would usually say good-bye before taking off.
Uil-Cur always looked forward to her stops by his department. He was enjoying the time they spent together and the friendship they had built. Even though he still felt nervous around her at times, he was happy.
Lost in though, he almost missed Mit-Sun pass by.
“Hello, Haner,” Mit-Sun called.
“Hello there, Mit-Sun. And you know, you’re allowed to call me Uil-Cur.”
“I know I am, but I’m not used to that at all,” she said. “Anyway, what’s up? How have you been?”
“My Weekend was pretty eventful I guess. I spent a lot of time going out with my younger siblings. It’s a lot of fun to see how much they still rely on me. Apparently I have enough of an age difference with them to be mistaken for their father, though.”
“Sounds weird. Anyway, I can’t talk long. I promised La-Iin we would do something today. If my first plan falls through, I want to make sure we can get out early enough so I can go on with my second.”
“I’m not keeping you here, you know,” he chuckled.
“I know you aren’t. I just wanted to say, see you tomorrow, Haner.”
“See you tomorrow, Mit-Sun!” He said with a wave. Mit-Sun waved back before taking off.
His talk with Mit-Sun today, even though it was brief, reminded him of his earliest days at Eteibreit Data Storage, hearing tales of the woman whom people couldn’t tell if she meant what she said about her daughter’s inconveniences or if she was making up excuses. Back then he had been enamored by the tales of her, and had wanted to meet her desperately, but he hadn’t expected what came after that–not the friendship or his own feelings.
Either way, it didn’t matter much to him. He was happy with where things were. With his shift over for the day, he readied himself to head home, thinking now instead of his siblings and what he might do with them today to stave off boredom.
“Haner!”
Uil-Cur stopped in place. The voice calling out to him wasn’t Eteibreit’s or Mit-Sun’s, nor did it sound like someone in his department. Curious, he took a look around the area for the source of the voice.
“Hey, Haner!”
A distance away from him sat a Normal woman, who waved towards him. He was confused, but Uil-Cur opted to walk up to her.
“Yes?”
“Hello, Haner!”
“Um, hello. To what do I owe the sudden summoning?”
“I guess you wouldn’t know me all that well, so I’ll give you a bit of background. My name is Leirhyn. Leirhyn Mit-Sun, actually.”
Uil-Cur blinked.
“I’m friends with your friend, Mit-Sun. Or Cahongyun, like I call her. And I’ve noticed you two talking quite a bit lately. Trying to talk to Cahongyun hasn’t gotten me many answers and I don’t think she intends on telling me much about your friendship. So, I wanted to talk to you about it!”
“Huh?”
“Wanna have a chat?”
“Um, I don’t know…”
“Why not start the chat then? I don’t see Cahongyun around anywhere, so you don’t have to worry about her overhearing. And I’m not gonna ask you the super intimate details. Just a few things, from a friend of Cahongyun’s to another friend of Cahongyun’s. I could probably tell you things about her you don’t know yet,” Leirhyn said with a wink.
“Er, alright. What did you want to talk about?”
“So, how’d you two meet?”
“We met here. It was just an accidental meeting, but I had heard of her before and I wanted to be her friend. We were just acquaintances for a bit, but we’ve really been getting close lately.”
“I see. I’m sure you two hang out a lot together.”
“Not really,” he said, glancing away. ‘Why’s Leirhyn so curious about this, I wonder? Is she jealous?’
“Cahongyun’s a pretty nice girl though, isn’t she? She’s got this kind of humble attitude around her. She says these things that’d make you think she’s a lot more feisty than she actually seems to be. But you kind of want to pick on her with how she acts, right?”
“I might agree with you, except for the picking on part. …to a degree.”
Leirhyn smirked. “She’s a sweet gal. I’m surprised she hasn’t gone crazy raising her daughter, from what I’ve heard and seen. She seems crazy.”
“She does,” Uil-Cur chuckled.
“I can understand why you wanted to be friends with her. We pretty much met by accident too, well, sort of. Mrs. Eteibreit was talkin’ to me about a worker with my same name, so I just had to see if she really worked here. Sounds a bit like you were curious about things you heard about her too, huh?”
“Well, she sounded like the type of girl I could really get along with. I didn’t go looking to meet her like you did, though.”
“Maybe I’m just more outgoing.”
“I’m pretty outgoing myself.”
“You seem pretty outgoing, although it also seems like you clam up when it comes to talking about Cahongyun. You know what, I just want to get to the point. Cahongyun isn’t telling me anything and I don’t think she even knows what I’m talking about when I ask her about this, but I’m just going to be blunt with you. Is there anything going on between you and Cahongyun?”
Uil-Cur’s face flushed. “Why would you–of course there isn’t! Me and her are just friends.”
Leirhyn’s expression became curious. “Okay, so I wanna ask another question, then. So you two aren’t together, but do you like her?”
“Of course I like her. She’s my friend.”
“Don’t dodge the subject, Haner. Either you do, or you don’t.” Leirhyn blinked and slumped in her seat. “Sorry, that sounded a little jerky. But I was just curious. I can’t get any answers out of Cahongyun, and, well, I don’t think I’m ever going to have a boyfriend myself. She already had someone, and now it seems like you and her have something going on, but maybe I’m just reading too much into it.”
“Why are you so curious about your friend’s love life, anyway?” Uil-Cur tried to keep his tone steady.
“I’m always curious about people’s love lives. It’s one of those things that interests me, you know? Lots of people are curious about that kind of romantic stuff, especially someone like me who can’t even bother to get a boyfriend. Even if I did, I never would. But unlike some other people, I’m interested in seeing things go good. So I was wondering if she might have some luck after what happened with her kid’s dad.”
“I see.”
“I’m not gonna press you anymore, though. It is kinda rude.”
Uil-Cur looked down at his knees. “Can you keep a secret?”
Leirhyn smirked. “Sure I can. What’s up?”
“…I don’t know about her, but if you noticed anything about me, you were right. I was interested in her since before I met her, but I didn’t think it would actually end up that way. I just expected it to be one of those things where someone sounds like your type of person, you know?”
“Do I ever.”
“I wouldn’t know what to tell you about how things would work out between her and me. We have a large age gap, she has her daughter to worry about, and Sirens have an age edge over Normals, even if it isn’t too ridiculous like Vampires…but I’m worried she’s not interested. I don’t want to bother wasting her time or ruining this friendship. I’m happy enough with things the way they are.”
“That sounds reasonable. And I can’t tell you what to do or what not to do. All I can tell you is, from the time we’ve been friends, I got the impression she probably isn’t the type to ditch you because you said ‘I love you’. That’s jackasses who do that. Might be a bit awkward, but I think if you weren’t forcing yourself down her throat she’d probably be fine going back to normal. Of course, that’s up to you. I don’t have much experience with romance but I’ve heard things can get awkward on that front.”
“And then there’s her daughter…even if she did like me back, I don’t think her daughter does.”
“That’s where warming up to people comes into play.” Leirhyn sighed. “The choice is yours, Haner. I was just curious to know if there was anything going on. But let me tell you, if you decide to say anything, I’m definitely on your team. I think you and Cahongyun would be good together.”
“You do?”
“Mm-hm! So just stay friends or try and take things to the next level, you’ve got one supporter. We might not be friends, but we’ve got a common friend, and I like to see my friends happy. I’ll be watching to see what sort of juicy developments happen, though.”
“Please don’t.”
Leirhyn giggled. “In all honesty, though, I wish you the best, Haner. Here’s hoping you and her have something on the horizon.”
Uil-Cur smiled. “Here’s hoping.”

—–
“I wonder about Haner sometimes. Somedays he seems so outgoing, and other times he seems really shy.”
“Haner?” La-Iin’s tone was dark.
“You shouldn’t be so hostile when I bring him up, La-Iin. He’s one of my friends. I don’t get on your case about San-Kyung anymore, do I?”
“Y–you comparing San-Kyung and Haner is one of the worst evils I’ve ever heard of! And I normally like evil!”
“What?”
“Someday soon, you’ll see the error of your ways, Mama. I just want that to be before it’s too late!”
La-Iin stomped out of the living room, her wings flapping wildly.
“Why is she so hostile about Haner?” Mit-Sun sighed. “Well, it’s par for the course with La-Iin, I suppose…”

22.477.Rainbow Fantasies

The La-Iin Series
Chapter 477
“Rainbow Fantasies”

At the back of Malicerie Public School, Deki-Tyunri stood a short distance away from San-Kyung. Nervousness had frozen his whole body, and though the situation was obvious he found himself wondering why exactly he was here.
“Elyshen, we need to talk,” San-Kyung said. “Don’t think I haven’t noticed how you act around me. Even if it had gone completely over my head, Dosa-Mina knew. He would have told me sooner or later.”
“I–I’m sorry,” Deki-Tyunri mumbled. “I know it’s ridiculous. I’ll leave you alone and we can pretend none of this ever happened, okay?”
“That’s not what I want, though.” Deki-Tyunri stiffened. ‘He’s going to kill me. I should fly away before he can reach me! Fly away as fast as I can!’
Yet he couldn’t bring himself to spread his wings. And now it was too late–he was face-to-face with San-Kyung.
“P-please don’t hurt me.”
“I’m not going to. Elyshen, I think you’ve got the wrong idea about what I want. All along you’ve been fearing what sort of response I might have if I found out about how you feel, but the truth is, now that I know I can safely say I….”

Before he could finish the sentence, Deki-Tyunri woke up.
“Deki-Tyunri, is everything all right?”
He was so nervous it took him a short while to realize that his grandmother was in his bedroom. He took a few deep gulps of air. “I’m fine, grandmother,” he said. “I just had a…strange dream.”
“Oh, well, I suppose that happens to boys your age sometimes,” she sighed. “Just clean yourself off and get ready for school.”
‘Clean myself off?’ Once he realized what his grandmother was implying, he almost threw himself back into bed in his embarrassment.

***

“Deki-Tyunri, you seem pretty jittery today. Something happen?”
“No,” he sighed. “I wish it was that. Then at least it would make more sense.”
“Upset about nothing?”
“No, not exactly that. I just had a…dream.”
“Ooh. Uh, I’m not gonna ask then.”
Deki-Tyunri pressed his lips together. ‘Lirako’s lucky she doesn’t have to deal with this. Or maybe she does and I just haven’t noticed. No, I’m sure she would have told me by now if that was the case.’
Deki-Tyunri’s memory of the dream was still fairly vivid, as if he had just woken up from it. When he spotted San-Kyung on the path to school, unconsciously he moved away from him, the dream replaying in his mind.
‘I know I promised I wouldn’t ask, but I’m so curious,’ Lirako thought.

San-Kyung watched as Deki-Tyunri walked over to Lirako’s left, shooting a quick, nervous glance in his direction before walking on, staring down at his feet. San-Kyung narrowed his eyes.
“What are you so angry about?” Dosa-Mina asked.
“Nothing,” he said. “I’m just thinking.”
“About what? Is it serious?”
“No. It’s stupid.” He said, shaking his head. “So, do you think the lessons today are going to be anything new, or more of the same?”
“More of the same. They tend to do this a lot when new students arrive. Sure makes things easy for us though, doesn’t it?”

***

‘I can’t get it out of my head. The dream’s passed already! All the others fade away, so why is this one staying?’
Though it only made his nervousness worse, throughout that day Deki-Tyunri couldn’t help but glance San-Kyung’s way. Each time it reminded him of the dream and made him feel immensely uncomfortable, yet he couldn’t resist the urge.
“Deki-Tyunri, are you alright?”
“I’m fine,” he sighed. “Just…lovesick as always, I guess.”
“Ah.”
A few desks away from him, San-Kyung tapped Dosa-Mina’s shoulder.
“Huh? What is it, San-Kyung?”
“I’ve been wondering about something,” he whispered. “Why the heck does that guy keep looking my way? None of the other students do that.”
“La-Iin does that,” he said.
“She’s at the back of the class. And I expect that of her. Why’s he doing it?”
“I’m pretty sure I know why. But that’s for him to tell you. You’ll have to ask him if you want the truth.”
“No.”
“Then don’t get huffy about it.”
“I’m not!”
“Yes, you are.”
‘I wonder what they’re talking about,’ Deki-Tyunri wondered. ‘Oh, Dslellular’s so lucky. He gets to talk to him all the time. One day I should try asking him about how they got so close in the first place. Maybe…’
He shook his head. ‘No, that would never happen! I need to stop getting my hopes up. I wish today would be over already…’

San-Kyung wasn’t sure of why Deki-Tyunri kept glancing in his direction, but he found himself quickly becoming agitated by it. An idea of why he might be doing so had wormed its way into his mind, and he couldn’t stand it.
He was caught between a reluctance to talk to the boy and a desire to confront him about his suspicions, and throughout his classes he was unable to decide which one he should follow through with. But his agitation only grew each time he spotted him glancing in his direction, and by his second-to-last class he had finally reached a decision.
“Lirako, I need something to distract me. Do you have any ideas?”
“My little brothers are the perfect distraction. You wanna come over after school?”
“I guess that would be okay.”
“If that doesn’t work, then you still need to do something that commands full attention of your senses. If you sit down with a book, you’re just going to keep thinking about the same thing over and over. At least, that’s how it is for me.”
“You’re right,” he sighed. “I think I’ll accept your offer to come over, Lirako. I hope your parents won’t mind.”
“They like you, Deki-Tyunri. They’ll be cool with it.”
“Alright. …you know, I wish this stupid crush would just go away.”
“This has been going on for over a year, Deki-Tyunri. It’s pretty serious. I don’t know what you can do about it really, save for get a crush on some other guy.”
“Which could help,” he said. “Or it could leave me as a wishy-washy idiot with crushes on two boys. This is pointless, Lirako. I just don’t want to think about it anymore.”
“Well, try not to. You kinda have to focus during school. Don’t want your grades to slip any, do ya?”
“No, I suppose not.” As they walked into the classroom, Deki-Tyunri couldn’t help another glance in San-Kyung’s direction. ‘This is so pathetic,’ he thought.
The last class started and ended, and both San-Kyung and Deki-Tyunri failed to give their full attention to the lesson. Almost as soon as the teacher had left the room, San-Kyung stood up from his seat.
“Hey, you forgot to pack your notebooks,” Dosa-Mina said.
“I’ll get them in a little. I have something I need to do first.”
Deki-Tyunri helped Lirako as she packed away her school supplies, picking up one of her notebooks in his mouth. He dropped the notebook when he noticed San-Kyung standing in front of his desk, his gaze focused on him.
Lirako looked as surprised as Deki-Tyunri felt.
“Quit glancing in my direction. You’re a distraction.”
“I–I’m sorry,” Deki-Tyunri choked out.
“And are you–” San-Kyung shook his head. “Never mind. Just quit glancing in my direction.”
“Hey, it’s your fault you’re getting distracted. Stop blaming him.”
“You know, if he’s glancing in my direction, he’s obviously pretty distracted himself. So stop it.”
Before San-Kyung walked away, his expression changed to one Deki-Tyunri couldn’t quite read. He watched on in confusion as San-Kyung left the classroom, Dosa-Mina chasing after him.
“I wonder what he was going to ask me?” Deki-Tyunri mumbled.
“Deki-Tyunri, he may be an idiot when it comes to relationships, but he’s still one of the smartest students in Class D. He’s gonna pick up on how you feel eventually.”
“Is he…?”
“I think so. You should be careful. I don’t wanna know how he’d react to knowing that. Maybe he’ll cut you some slack, though. He’s not as mean to Cahongyun as he used to be.”
La-Iin glared at Lirako before leaving the classroom.
“He is right, though. I’m just getting distracted.” Deki-Tyunri stood up from his desk. “I think the sooner I get to see your brothers, the better.”
“If that’s the case, let’s get going, then!”

—–
“What were you talking to Elyshen about?”
“I just told him to stop staring my way. It’s annoying.”
“I didn’t think you were so easily distracted by stuff like that.”
“I’m not usually. He just had me wondering…”
“About what?”
“Nothing important.”
San-Kyung grimaced. ‘That had better not be the case. Yukkini was bad enough, and La-Iin’s annoying. He may be out of the way, but I’m not dealing with a third of them!’
San-Kyung tried to put his speculation out of mind as he head home with Dosa-Mina, who began to complain about Hyungdarou’s lesson from that day.

1.456.Twilight or Sunset

The La-Iin Series
Chapter 456
“Twilight or Sunset”

Students were on their way to Malicerie, arriving in small groups. It was still fairly early in the morning, so not many students were in the crowd. But no student arriving noticed La-Iin and Dosa-Mina, who were standing at the side of the school.
“La-Iin, I have something to admit to you.”
“I don’t have time to listen to your nonsense, rival-boy. I’m close to a breakthrough with San-Kyung. Soon enough, his heart will be mine!”
“How ironic! What I wanted to tell you has to do with San-Kyung!”
La-Iin glared. “And what’s that, rival-boy? Is he secretly a girl? Does he fancy guys? I won’t buy any of it, so don’t bother telling me!”
“You’re ridiculous. It’s none of those things. It has to do with San-Kyung and me.
La-Iin backed away. “No. It can’t be!”
“The truth is, La-Iin, I can’t lie to you anymore! I love San-Kyung! I’m completely head-over-heels for him, and I have been ever since we went to Deatrou! I’ve tried holding back so hard. I’ve tried to keep our mouth shut for the sake of our friendship. But after seeing him get licked by that Llanni girl, I can’t take it anymore!”
His smile became sly. “Now you know what sort terms we stand on, La-Iin. And may the better…well, I can’t say man…or Normal…hm….may the better friend win!” Dosa-Mina giggled. “That is, if you can really say that for yourself!”
“I knew it! Don’t think it wasn’t obvious! I could tell by your affection. You’re not exactly what I’d call ‘in the closet’ with your feelings, rival-boy.”
“The affection actually had nothing to do with my being in love with him, but well, if you choose to see it that way, so be it!” He started to dash away, only to stop in place and glance at La-Iin over his shoulder. “But trust me, La-Iin, he likes me way better. Besides, Werewolves are more attractive than Vampires!”
“Says you! And you have Siren in you too. You don’t exactly look like a Pureblood Werewolf.”
“Well, you know, Sirens used to have quite a healthy diet of people thanks to attracting them, so what do you have to say about that?”
Dosa-Mina dashed into the school. La-Iin stared on with wide eyes.
“He’s right. He does have the upper hand! But he’ll see. No man can resist my charms! And absolutely nobody can resist a Vampire! We love people for hundreds of years! And that’s something he can’t beat!”
She dashed into the school after him.

***

San-Kyung arrived later to school than usual, giving a sigh of frustration as he entered the classroom. “Who would’ve thought eating could be so painful? That seals it, I’m sticking to liquids from now on.”
Immediately he noticed a folded piece of paper sitting on his desk. Curious, he opened it up.

Deer San-Kyung:
What turns you on?
An anoniemous wondurur

“What the?” San-Kyung set fire to the message. He glared around the classroom. Everyone seemed to be preoccupied with talking to a friend or studying a notebook. San-Kyung didn’t trust any of them, but he was particularly preoccupied on the younger children.
“San-Kyung.”
He nearly jumped out of his seat.
“Don’t get so scared, San-Kyung.”
“Don’t whisper in my ear, then! What do you want!?”
“Don’t you think getting your blood sucked would be a turn on?” She said, sitting on his desk. “Everyone says it’s so scary and makes you light-headed. But you always struck me as the kind of boy who would like that sort of thing. You know, I have to wonder what gets you going. I always figured it would be something violent.”
“Are you the one who left that disgusting letter?”
La-Iin stared him in the eye. Though her expression was fairly stoic, her tone gave her away.
“Me? What letter? I have absolutely no idea what you’re talking about!”
San-Kyung glared. “You’re disgusting. Leave me alone. I have to focus on school.”
“No, you don’t!” Dosa-Mina said as he nearly slammed himself into his chair. San-Kyung flinched. “Didn’t you know? In these types of realities, school means shit. You can do whatever you want, whenever you want, unless the writer has no inspiration.”
“What are you talking about?”
“Tell me, San-Kyung, which one do you think is cooler? A Vampire or a Werewolf?”
“Why do I care?”
“No particular reason. I’m asking for someone else’s sake.”
“I don’t care.” Noticing Dosa-Mina’s eager expression, he scratched his head and said, “A Vampire-Werewolf. Happy!?”
“Ooh, how edgy. I like it. Bloodsucking, flight and immense strength.”
“What’s wrong with you today?”
“Nothing’s wrong with me today.” Dosa-Mina gave a sly grin. “Say, San-Kyung, between me and La-Iin, you like me better, don’t you?”
“As if that wasn’t obvious.”
“Rival-boy, cut it out!” La-Iin hissed. “Trying to win out over me is one thing, but doing it right in front of me is another!”
“San-Kyung said it best himself. It’s plenty obvious that he likes me better than he likes you.”
“That doesn’t mean you can’t still be annoying.”
Dosa-Mina didn’t seem to hear him. “Anyway, San-Kyung, tell me, what’s something you value in a person?”
“What?”
“Come on, San-Kyung. You can’t tell me you don’t like neck biting.” La-Iin said.
San-Kyung covered his neck. “Cut it out. You know, you’re pretty perverted for a little kid.”
“I just want to make you happy, San-Kyung. And I always did get the impression that carnage would give you a bo–”
“Taking our minds off this subject for a little bit, this is starting to get old. What do you say we call the teachers in and ask them to actually teach us something for once?” Dosa-Mina said.

***

“You know, rival-boy, I will never let you have San-Kyung.”
“You say that as if he’s your property. But I’m not really all that intimidated by what you have to say. Because the truth is, I’m miles ahead of you in terms of progress. Sure, there’s the issue of I don’t think San-Kyung shares my feelings, but he’s far closer to that point than he is with you. Besides, you’re a little kid. He and I are practically the same age! And we made a death pact, and we always hang out together–”
“But he and I are both evil. We share morals. We’d be perfect together. I can see it now, our chaotic wedding day, with all the important people in our lives involved.”
“Would I be included?”
La-Iin hissed. “No.”
“Even if you won out and San-Kyung ended up as head-over-heels for you as I am for him, it doesn’t change the fact that we’re still best friends. There’s absolutely nothing in the world you could do to change that!”
“Nothing in the world, you say?” La-Iin smirked. “I don’t think you should have said that, rival-boy, because that gives me a perfect idea…”

“San-Kyung, Dosa-Mina said your parents are stupid.”
“What?”
“He also said that he thinks you’re better off weak like you are in November. Then he can take advantage of you.”
“…”
“Also he’s in love with you.”
“Tell me, why do you expect me to believe a word you say?”
“San-Kyung, I’m trying to protect you from yourself! Know the right way. Accept my charms!” La-Iin grabbed on to him.
“Let go of me!” He threw La-Iin to the ground. “And cut it out. I’m not a pedophile.”
“What if…” La-Iin’s eyes widened. “What if I told you I was actually an adult, and I just look really really young!?”
“I wouldn’t buy it. You’re half-Vampire, doofus.”
La-Iin grabbed on to San-Kyung’s ribbon. “What can I do to make you love me?”
“Nothing! Stop bothering me!”
“Yeah, La-Iin, quit bothering him,” Dosa-Mina said. “He’s going to pop a blood vessel if you keep agitating him like that.”
“Speaking of agitating, what’s wrong with you today?”
“Nothing? San-Kyung, I can’t help but act happy around you. You’re my best friend!”
“The both of you are acting really strange,” he said, glancing back-and-forth between La-Iin and Dosa-Mina. “Something’s going on, and I want to know what it is.”
“Me and rival-boy are in a contest for your love! The winner gets to have a million babies with you!”
San-Kyung flinched.
“I don’t remember that part of the deal.”
“What the!? Dosa-Mina, you’re not seriously playing along with her, are you?”
“Oh, I’m not playing along. I’m entirely serious here. I used to see this rivalry as a silly and ridiculous thing, but I’m starting to see La-Iin as a genuine threat.”
“How is a little girl a threat to you in any way? You overpower her in all ways!”
“You never know what the future holds,” Dosa-Mina sighed, resting his elbows on San-Kyung’s desk.
“Where did the other students go?”
“Home. It’s after school, in case you didn’t notice. But that’s not the point here. I have to say something to you, and I mean what I’m about to say. I’m completely serious about it!”
“Huh?”
“Molshei San-Kyung, I am in love with you. And I don’t care how you respond. So long as you say I’ll always be a better friend of yours than La-Iin’s, I’m fine.”
La-Iin growled. “He’s not the only one! I love you too, San-Kyung!”
San-Kyung stared at both with at first an expression of wide-eyed shock, then a blank one as he got up from his seat and walked out the classroom. La-Iin and Dosa-Mina followed after him. He stopped just outside the entrance; no students were walking home.
“Why?” He asked.
“Why what? Why do I love you? Because I do,” Dosa-Mina said simply.
“Because you’re second-best to me. And I like that.”
San-Kyung’s eyelid twitched. “Right. And why is this going on?”
“La-Iin declared us rivals. After seeing you getting all close to her, I couldn’t hold back anymore. So I said what was on my mind.”
“Rival-boy is really annoying.”
San-Kyung sighed.
“San-Kyung, the decision is easy. I’m evil and you’re evil. And maybe, just maybe, if I bite you and you get turned on enough, you’ll turn half-Vampire.”
“That doesn’t work, silly,” Dosa-Mina said, giving her a hard pat on the head. “Not even absorbing your powers would change him into a half-Vampire. And that’d only be if he was a Warlock.”
“That’s not fair. Werewolves can turn other people into Werewolves.” La-Iin’s eyes widened. “No!”
“Don’t be ridiculous. I wouldn’t turn San-Kyung into a Werewolf,” Dosa-Mina said. “Unless, of course, he wanted to become one?”
“No!” San-Kyung yelled. “How can you two act so normal about this?”
La-Iin wrinkled her nose. “Acting casual is the only way I can keep myself from rending rival-boy’s flesh.”
“It’s just a front, San-Kyung. And anyway, I’m not exactly worried about losing to a little girl.”
“No man can resist my charms, rival-boy. If I wanted to, I could probably entice you. You should be worried about losing to a little girl.”
“You obviously don’t have a very high opinion of men if you think we’re all tasteless pedophiles,” Dosa-Mina sighed.
“Excuse me!?”
“That’s it, I’m getting out of here!”
“San-Kyung, you haven’t given either of us a response yet!” Dosa-Mina exclaimed.
“With the way you two are acting, even if I was in love with one of you, I would still say no.”
San-Kyung began to stomp off. “He’s getting away!”
Both La-Iin and Dosa-Mina began to follow after him. San-Kyung groaned.
“San-Kyung, surely you want an evil Queen with whom to rule the world with?” La-Iin said. “I’m sure we’d do a great job of it, you and me.”
“We’ve been friends for a long time now. And, well, we’ve trusted each other with a lot of things over the years. We even made a death pact. I’m not saying you have to return my feelings, but could you at least accept them?”
San-Kyung struck both hands and held them out. La-Iin and Dosa-Mina backed away. “There’s your answer. Come back to me when you stop being a little kid, and you stop acting like someone from a shitty romance novel!”
San-Kyung stomped off, hands still lit with flames.
“Well, that was disappointing,” Dosa-Mina said.
“But you know what this means, rival-boy. The rivalry continues. I still have a chance.”
“I think I have more of a chance, given that you’d have to get a little older to meet San-Kyung’s requirements.”
“We’ll see about that!”

***

Late that night, San-Kyung was studying in his bedroom.
‘I wish I had more to do. If I have so little memories that I can store all this information, obviously I haven’t been getting much done.’
“San-Kyuuuung~”
San-Kyung flinched. When he turned around, he noticed two people sitting on his bed.
“I’ve stopped being a little kid,” La-Iin said. She was wearing platform shoes and had stuffed her chest.
“And I’m no longer acting like someone from a shitty romance novel. I’m just going to be Dosa-Mina from now on.”
“So…”
“Could you give us an actual answer this time?”
San-Kyung stared at both of them blankly.
“San-Kyung?” La-Iin asked.
“GET THE HELL OUT OF MY ROOM!”

—–
“La-Iin, is something wrong? You look really sleepy!”
“I had a bad dream last night, let’s just put it that way.”
“San-Kyung, are you alright? You look exhausted.”
“Dosa-Mina, please, just don’t talk to me for a little while.”