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.”

28.452.Ghneckdo Life Part 3: Mr. and Mrs. Ghneckdo

The La-Iin Series
Chapter 452
“Ghneckdo Life Part 3: Mr. and Mrs. Ghneckdo”

“What a lovely day for a day off. Wouldn’t you say so, Anil-Kosha?”
“Better than if it was raining, that’s for certain,” she replied. “Otherwise this little flying trip would be near impossible.”
“I was under the impression that it was a flying date,” Verde-Nenda said with a wink.
“To make me consider an outing a date requires a lot more flair. You should know that after so many years of marriage.”
“I’m well aware that you have some of the most expensive taste of any Vampire lady I have ever taken a fancy to.”
Anil-Kosha huffed. “It’s hard not to when you have the means to own some of those expensive things. Besides, I may have expensive taste, but tell me, would any of those other Vampire ladies you apparently took a fancy to have made you buy those things for them?”
“Perhaps. But this was when I was an adolescent. Who knows, maybe they’ve changed over the years. Ah, enough about this, Anil-Kosha! Let’s enjoy our date, and our day off!”
“I’m with you all the way there,” she said. The two flew across the sky at a high speed, the both of them feeling light-hearted and relaxed.

“It’s almost surprising just how much the demand for SATs has gone up,” Anil-Kosha said. “I suppose someday in the future, Purebloods like you and I might be more of a minority. It does make me wonder, what will the future be like in three-hundred more years? Already there have been a lot of changes in only two-hundred. Younger Vampires call me old-fashioned, but damn it, the glory days I remember were only a hundred years ago!”
“Some Vampires like to change with the tide of time,” Verde-Nenda shrugged. “I had a longtime friend who was as ‘old-fashioned’ as you could come back in the 1800s, yet come the nineties he was as modern as you can get. I figure he’s probably no different now. …say, Anil-Kosha, is this how you want to spend the entire date? Simply talking about mundane things? I was hoping we could do something, you know…”
“No, I don’t know. And it frustrates me when you don’t tell me what it is.”
“Something more exciting! We’ll still be in our truly glorious days for many years to come, Anil-Kosha. And since Asul-Zenza decided to become independent at such a young age, we have so much time to do more of these exciting things. Don’t you recall the days our dates would be spent dancing and drinking the night away!?”
“I remember the hangovers,” she groaned.
“Try not to!” Verde-Nenda grabbed her hands and twirled her. “We too are young Vampires. The times may have changed quite a bit since we were young, but that fact has not. So let’s enjoy today!”
The two began to dance in the center of the plaza. Anil-Kosha quickly took hold of the situation and also the lead in the dance, dancing so quickly that Verde-Nenda almost tripped over his feet. Their display attracted the attention of other Vampires nearby, who began to watch them curiously.
“I think we have spectators, Anil-Kosha!” Verde-Nenda whispered.
“Do you think it’s our style of dance?”
“No, I think it’s the fact that we are dancing in the first place. But keep going, I say! I’m having too much fun to be bothered by their eyes.”
The two continued to dance in front of the crowd, dancing more freely as more spectators arrived. Verde-Nenda was able to wrestle the lead in the dance from Anil-Kosha and changed to another one, which had Anil-Kosha nearly falling over. The spectators seemed amused, laughing among each other.
Finally, when the dance came to an end, Verde-Nenda and Anil-Kosha took off as fast as possible.
“Thank goodness you decided to end it,” Anil-Kosha said. “I’m not sure what I think of having all those people watch us dance!”
“Well, think about it this way, my dear. There’s much worse they could have been watching us doing, and at least they weren’t jeering!”

“So, what do we do now, Verde-Nenda?”
“I want to continue to be productive. It doesn’t do to let a date slow down. It’s never been my style to spend the night cuddling under stars and whispering or some such. I’m as romantic a man as any, but I need excitement!”
“If that’s the case, I believe I have the perfect idea!”
“What’s that?”
Anil-Kosha pointed ahead to a park in the distance. Verde-Nenda squinted his eyes. “Surely you don’t mean that park?”
“I do mean it. Come now, Verde-Nenda, it’s not like the parks we would take Asul-Zenza to. It looks to be a more refined one. And at least we’ll be doing more than talking about pleasantries.”
“I know, it just seems so childish to do such a thing. But I suppose it’s better than shopping.”
“For that comment I ought to take you to a store next!”
The two landed at the park and took a look around. “How about the swings? I used to love those things when I was young.”
“We’ll see if that still holds true!” Verde-Nenda said. “Get on, Anil-Kosha, and I’ll push you.”
Anil-Kosha’s expression became playful as she sat on the swing seat, kicking her legs back and forth. Verde-Nenda stood behind her and pushed her as hard as he could manage.
“Whee!” She cried out. Verde-Nenda stood back as the swing came flying in his direction. Anil-Kosha giggled as she went back-and-forth.
“Ooh, I knew this would be childish,” he muttered under his breath. “Is that really so fun?”
“Come and try it! I can push you this time!”
Anil-Kosha leaped off the swing, flying into the air and landing in front of it.
“I must admit, that was impressive,” he said as he sat on the swing seat.
“Thank you, Verde-Nenda. Now, remember to kick your legs back-and-forth to keep momentum. I’m not going to keep pushing you.”
“I’ll remember that. Now, do it quickly! The sooner this is over with, the be–”
Before he could finish, Anil-Kosha gave him a strong push. Verde-Nenda began to swing back-and-forth, much to both his surprise and horror. He began to kick his legs as Anil-Kosha had directed him too, and while that helped him control his momentum, it still didn’t stop him. Ultimately he dug his heels into the ground to stop himself.
“Well? What did you think?” Anil-Kosha asked.
“I think I’ve never been so suddenly terrified in all my life,” Verde-Nenda breathed. “Still, I can at least understand why you enjoy those things so much now.”
Anil-Kosha smiled.
“Say, do you want to continue on in the park, or did you want to do something else? I’m fine with either, so long as you have an idea for the latter if that’s what you wish to do.”
“It looks like the day still has plenty of time. Why not do both?”
“That’s fine with me! ….that is, as long as you do have an idea for what happens next.”

***

Verde-Nenda and Anil-Kosha spent a good amount of time at the park, playing together in ways they hadn’t for years. Once they tired of that, Anil-Kosha suggested doing some window shopping. Verde-Nenda dreaded the suggestion as soon as she made it, but to his surprise–and relief–she bought only one item, and they were only out a short time.
“It’s starting to get fairly late,” Verde-Nenda said. “Perhaps we could end this date with something I would like to do?”
“Why not? What did you want to do?”
“Follow me!”
Verde-Nenda led the way as he and his wife maneuvered the night sky. From their distance, Verde-Nenda had spotted an area that was mildly lit. As they neared the area, Verde-Nenda found his suspicions were proven true–a small restaurant was one of the buildings in the area.
“What is this place, Verde-Nenda?”
“Consider it dinner, Anil-Kosha,” Verde-Nenda said. “And don’t ask me–I’ve never been!”
The restaurant was as small on the inside as it was outside, and only two other Vampires were in the building beside them and the staff, both on their own. The waiter noticed them almost as soon as they walked in and led them to a table near a window.
“What a beautiful sight,” Anil-Kosha said. “Night is so beautiful. So wonderful…you must wonder how so many species decide to sleep through it.”
“Many people don’t, my dear,” he said. “Besides, it’s almost hypocritical to say that considering we’re among such people, don’t you think?”
Anil-Kosha didn’t respond, just continuing to stare out the window as if she were trapped in a daze. The waiter arrived during this moment of silence, asking what they might like to drink.
“Wingyrm blood for me,” Anil-Kosha said.
“I’ll be having Wineblood,” Verde-Nenda said. “Surprise me on the wine, but I think I’ll have the same sort of blood.”
The waiter nodded, jotting down their drinks and head off. Anil-Kosha looked at him with surprise.
“Why not cut loose? I won’t drink much. Besides, drinking and flying isn’t against the law.”
“Oh, it’s not that. I was just sort of surprised, is all.”
“Why? You know I like Wineblood.”
“I suppose I do.” Anil-Kosha smiled. “Thank you for today, Verde-Nenda. I have had a great time.”
“I should be thanking you as well, Anil-Kosha! I’m not the one who’s been running this date. That’s been handled by the both of us.”
“I suppose it has!”
The waiter arrived with their drinks.
“Your orders?”
“I’ll be having an oregano steak,” Anil-Kosha said.
“Barije for me.”
The waiter nodded, jotted down their meals and walked off. Verde-Nenda raised his glass of Wineblood, and Anil-Kosha clinked her drink to it.
“To us!” Verde-Nenda said.

—–
Verde-Nenda and Anil-Kosha head home late enough that the day had crossed over into the next. Both were exhausted by the time they arrived home, but felt pleased by the day. They cleaned off, brushed their teeth and dressed in pajamas, then flopped into their bed and fell asleep almost instantly.

12.436.Mali-Ana and Lishe-Ashyo

The La-Iin Series
Chapter 436
“Mali-Ana and Lishe-Ashyo”

“HAPPY BIRTHDAY MALI-ANA!”
Mali-Ana flinched at the noise. “Um, thank you!”
“I can’t believe my little girl is eighteen,” Mr. Reusung sobbed.
“I can’t believe it either. I mean, now we’re the same age again.” Lishe-Ashyo said.
“You’re still older.”
“Watching you grow up has been a joy, but it’s also been very painful seeing you go from a cute little girl to a full-grown woman,” Mr. Reusung said. “But enough about all that. Happy birthday, Mali-Ana.”
“Yeah, happy birthday!” Gen-Reiya said.
“Happs of the birthdays, Mali-Ana!” Xhen-Wu said.
“Happy birthday, Mali-Ana,” Cou-Riette said.
An-Tois cooed.
“Th-thanks, but guys, seriously, don’t make so much of a big deal out of it. Last year everything was going on at once because you three graduated and then I had my birthday on the same day. I’m already exhausted from graduation yesterday.”
“When she woke up this morning, she started to get ready for school. Then she started crying when she remembered she didn’t have to go anymore,” Mr. Reusung said. Mali-Ana’s face burned.
“Crying tears of joy or tears of sadness?” Gen-Reiya asked. Mr. Reusung shrugged.
“That’s adorable,” Lishe-Ashyo gushed. Mali-Ana’s face burned stronger and her right hand balled into a fist.
“It’s alright, Mali-Ana. I did similar when I graduated. It may happen for a few days to come.” Cou-Riette said.
“I did it once too,” Lishe-Ashyo said.
“You guys are crazy,” Xhen-Wu said.
“I haven’t done it yet either, but I bet I will! Actually, I’m less surprised by my graduation and more surprised by the fact that Sanyaow’s gonna be graduating next year. That just seems so wrong.”
“Sanyaow?” Mr. Reusung questioned.
“She’s a Catori girl at Malicerie,” Lishe-Ashyo explained. “She’s pretty popular and well-known. Probably the most popular student from our class. Apparently she’s in Grade 12 now.”
“It’s really weird,” Gen-Reiya sighed. “Sanhuun’s in the fourth grade, Elyshen made it to ten. Cahongyun’s in the second grade, so strange.”
“Hey, don’t take the focus away from the birthday girl,” Xhen-Wu chided. Gen-Reiya rubbed the back of his head.
“Yeah, Gen-Reiya.” Lishe-Ashyo said.
“Stop being mean to me!”
“I’m not trying to be. I’m just saying, I know Mali-Ana said she wants to kick back, but why should we? You deserve to feel special. I know I like spoiling people on their birthdays.”
“It’s why I always look forward to mine,” Gen-Reiya said.
“Indeed, you’re a little crazy in that regard, Lishe-Ashyo,” Cou-Riette said. “I worry sometimes you’ll go bankrupt in the future.”
“Hey!”
“Don’t worry, I….oh, never mind,” Cou-Riette said. “Pretend I said nothing.”
Xhen-Wu and Gen-Reiya gave downcast glances in Cou-Riette’s direction as An-Tois started to pull on her hair. Mali-Ana stared down at her knees and listened to the conversation around her.
“You know, Mr. Coulmeta, I see your friends tend to pick on you,” Mr. Reusung said.
“They pick on me more,” Gen-Reiya said.
“I don’t get why, though. You’re an outstanding man in my opinion.”
“Please, no,” Lishe-Ashyo said, holding up his hands. Mr. Reusung smiled.
“Don’t be shy about compliments, Lishe-Ashyo.” He sighed. “Ah, that’s something I’ve told Mali-Ana time and time again but it never works, so I guess it’s pointless to say. But the point I’m trying to make is, thank you again for being friends with my daughter.”
“You’re-welcome-Mr.-Reusung-but-you-have-told-me-that-already,” Lishe-Ashyo said robotically.
“Well, it’s one of those things that can be repeated several times over.”
Lishe-Ashyo blinked hard.
“Speaking of, Mr. Coulmeta, is there anyone you’re interested in?”
“What!?” He shrieked. Gen-Reiya started to snicker. “What the–!”
“Your reactions remind me of Mali-Ana’s. I guess you two have more in common than I thought,” Mr. Reusung said. “I was just asking. Curiosity killed the Catori, they say, but I say it makes him smarter.”
“How does this make you…” Lishe-Ashyo sighed. “No, not really. Or, maybe sort of. I don’t really know.”
Everyone in the room began to look surprised after Lishe-Ashyo’s statement.
“What, a guy can’t be interested in someone?”
“I…just wasn’t expecting it, is all,” Cou-Riette said. “You who talked of being a campus casanova saying he’s interested in someone…”
“She just reminds me of someone I think is cute,” he said, his embarrassment evident. “So, I don’t know, maybe…”
“You should say something to her. Maybe she feels the same.” Mr. Reusung said.
“I don’t even know if I even actually like her or if I just think she’s cute.”
Gen-Reiya rolled his eyes.
Mali-Ana clutched her pants. Hearing Lishe-Ashyo talk about being interested in someone upset her. She tried to channel the feeling into something else, but the more she tried, the more upset she ended up.
“Lishe-Ashyo, can I talk to you for a little bit?”
“Huh? Yeah, sure. What is it?”
“…in private.”
Lishe-Ashyo tipped his head to one side. “Um, sure. Your bedroom or someplace else?”
“Wherever. Just anywhere but here.”
Curious glances were shot in their direction as they left the room. They didn’t stop until Mali-Ana felt they were someplace they wouldn’t be heard.
“Something wrong, Mali-Ana? Are you upset because of what I said? Don’t worry, I don’t really get romantic feelings. I mean, I get them, but I don’t get them. Make sense?”
“I know what you’re talking about, you stinking casanova,” she snapped.
“No need to jump to insults,” he huffed. “So what did you want?”
“…is it true you maybe have a crush on some girl?”
“I dunno, she just reminds me of someone I think is cute. But maybe I’m kidding myself. I don’t know.”
“…”
“What’s wrong?”
“Lishe-Ashyo, do you think you’ll ever…you know, like…date someone?”
“I’d like to.”
“Like sometime soon?”
“I dunno. Where’s this going, Mali-Ana? I can’t tell what it is you want.”
“That’s the thing. Can you even tell? You said you don’t get romantic feelings anyway. So I wouldn’t be surprised if you didn’t understand at all.”
“Well, you could try explaining.”
“Isn’t it obvious already? Hasn’t Gen-Reiya pointed it out millions of times in the past to you? Hasn’t he told you over and over again? Heck, maybe Xhen-Wu and Cou-Riette have too. Haven’t you pointed it out before!?”
“What?”
Mali-Ana grit her teeth. “No. I don’t want to say it. If you don’t get it, then you don’t deserve to know.”
“C’mon, Mali-Ana, I don’t want to see you upset on your birthday. Smile. Go ahead and tell me what it is. I won’t tell anyone else, I promise. This conversation is a secret between you and me. So look up, go ahead, say it, then cheer up and let’s celebrate.”
Mali-Ana mumbled something he couldn’t make out.
“Sorry, could you repeat that again?”
“I lo…I…I like you, okay!?”
Lishe-Ashyo blinked.
“I don’t care if you don’t get romantic feelings, you should be able to see that much!” Her face was bright red, and she looked furious. Lishe-Ashyo mildly feared she might lash out. “I get it, it was obvious. So what. And maybe you like some other girl, who cares. But Gen-Reiya, he had a good point. I need to get it off my chest or I’ll never get over stupid you.”
Her expression calmed. “And while I’m still being honest, I’ll say this too, but I’ll only say it once. I know I insult you all the time. Yeah, that’s put-upon. I’m not good at expressing my feelings, so sue me. Seems like we both have feeling issues we need to sort out. But I’m admitting it now. I find a lot more endearing about you than it might seem! And sometimes I insult you and then I beat myself up to high hell and back because I keep asking myself why did I say that!? But I can’t stop myself because it’s f@%king embarrassing that I have this stupid crush on my best friend who’s a big idiot!
Mali-Ana seemed on the verge of tears, but only for a moment. “I really do like you, Lishe-Ashyo, more than I might say. It just embarrasses me to say how much. So yeah, maybe you like that girl. Maybe you like a ton of girls and you’re just too stupid to realize it, who knows. But now you know how I feel, and now maybe I can get over you. Because I know it. You’re just going to say no.”
Lishe-Ashyo felt as though his heart would drop into his stomach. Hearing Mali-Ana’s confession, hearing her pour her heart out, he felt all that much worse for what he knew he had to say.
“…thanks, Mali-Ana.”
“But no, right?”
“Yeah, it’s a no, I don’t feel the same way, but not for the reason you’d think,” he said. “Mali-Ana, I see you as kind of a little sister. I know I’m an only child, but that’s how I feel. Because of that, it just grosses me out, the idea of being in a relationship with you. But that’s not because I think you’re disgusting, really! Maybe this will sound gross, but if I didn’t see you that way I think I’d be thrilled at what you just said. You’re pretty adorable and aside from all that violence your personality is nice. And you’re that passionate about me, it touches my heart. But I just can’t. I see you as a sister. Maybe that’ll change someday, but that’s how things stand right now, so…I can’t.”
Mali-Aa glanced down. “I knew it. …not the sister thing, but that you’d say no. I guess that’s better than you just saying no because I’m a violent bitch…”
“H-hey, don’t look so upset,” he said. “How about I make a deal with you?”
“How do you make a deal out of something like this?” Mali-Ana asked, her tone snarky.
“Look, I don’t want you to be sad, alright? So how about for today, we can be, y’know, boyfriend and girlfriend? Just for today. Who knows, maybe it’ll change my perspective of you into something that benefits you.”
“Or you’ll just be making a stinkface constantly because you see me as your sister!” She yelled.
“I’m willing to do it if you’re willing, though,” he said. “Sure, the idea grosses me out. But you know what? I’d rather be grossed out and see you happy than not be grossed out and see you upset.”
“And that’s disgusting. If I was actually your sister, would you still do this?”
“Well, you’re not, so does it matter?”
Mali-Ana pouted. “It’s gonna make me feel horrible tomorrow. I’m just going to be mega upset.”
“And I’ll be there to cheer you up.”
“You really don’t get how romantic feelings work, do you? I thought you were just saying that as some sort of put-upon, but you’re really stupid when it comes to this.”
Lishe-Ashyo shrugged. “Sue me. It’s the way I’m set up.”
Mali-Ana let her shoulders relax. “Fine. I accept. I know this is just gonna be a big mistake, but…it’s a nice birthday present.”
“I’ll try and make you happy, don’t worry,” he said, pulling her close. Mali-Ana felt her face burn, but for once, her hands did not ball into fists.

***

After their conversation, Mali-Ana had told her father and friends what the arrangement between her and Lishe-Ashyo was. While it made them wonder about the conversation the two had had, they continued on normally, and to their joy Mali-Ana had begun to smile as the day went on.
“Who’s ready for cake?” Mr. Reusung said.
“I am! I am!” Gen-Reiya called.
“So immature,” Mali-Ana huffed. “I’m ready.”
Mr. Reusung nodded.
“Are we gonna sing?” Lishe-Ashyo asked.
“Maybe we should sing Denden Saree as a joke,” Xhen-Wu chuckled.
“No, let’s not sing,” Mali-Ana said.
An-Tois began to babble loudly. Cou-Riette gave him a curious glance and sniffed him.
“I think An-Tois didn’t listen to what you said,” Xhen-Wu chuckled.
“Well, at least he’s not dirty,” Cou-Riette said.
“Here you go!” Mr. Reusung said. “Make a wish before blowing out the candles.”
Mali-Ana closed her eyes, then blew out the candles within a short span of time.
“I don’t need to wait for this one to come true,” she said. “I can make it come true myself.”
Mali-Ana turned to her side, and to the surprise of everyone in the room, leaned forward and kissed Lishe-Ashyo.
“There, now I got my wish,” she said, her tone confident. She began to cut the cake, oblivious to the shocked expressions on everyone’s face except for Lishe-Ashyo’s.
In Lishe-Ashyo’s case, his expression was one of disgust.

—–
As the day came to a close, and Mali-Ana had fallen asleep in her bed, Gen-Reiya took the chance to talk to Lishe-Ashyo.
“Why’d you do that, Lishe-Ashyo?” He asked. “Do you really like her now, or were you just placating?”
He sighed. “I know I trust you with everything, Gen-Reiya, but it’d be like betraying Mali-Ana if I told you why I did that.”
“So you were placating?”
“I’m not going to say myself. Like I said, it’d be like betraying Mali-Ana.”
He blinked at Mali-Ana. “Still, I really did not expect her to just kiss me out of the blue like that. …aw, my sister’s breaking out of her shell, in an incestuous way.”
“Ew, don’t say it like that,” Gen-Reiya said.
“It’s the best way I know how to put it,” he sighed. “But, you know, Gen-Reiya, I hope Mali-Ana continues on like this. I really like the Mali-Ana who’s not shy and violent all the time. Confident and kind is much better.”
“I like her better that way too!”
“Don’t go cheating on Xhen-Wu now, okay?”
“Do you really think I would?”
Mali-Ana opened one eye to a slit to glance at the two, then closed it again and gave a contented sigh.

9.433.Eternal Desperation

The La-Iin Series
Chapter 433
“Eternal Desperation”

Uil-Cur was in a state of lovesickness.
“Oh, how I wish it was easier to build a relationship with a work acquaintance,” he sighed aloud.
Uil-Cur had thought highly of Mit-Sun since before having met her, and had been interested in her even then, but ever since the day he had walked home with her he was completely smitten and felt conflicted as a result of it.
Many times recently he had found himself daydreaming of what his life might be like if he and Mit-Sun ended up in a relationship, but then he would feel conflicted because the two had not known each other for long.
‘There has to be something I can do to get closer to her, at the very least,’ he thought. ‘I want to see her so badly, but tomorrow’s Monday. I don’t work on Mondays…but she does. Maybe she won’t mind if I go and see her tomorrow. …but she might think that’s creepy, who knows…’
He groaned. ‘If love’s supposed to be such a wonderful feeling, then why does it hurt so damn much!?’

***

Uil-Cur took a deep breath as he walked into work Monday morning, passing by Eteibreit’s office on his way in. He tried to move quickly, but just as his workplace came into view he felt claws dig into his shoulder.
“Haner, would you mind telling me what you’re doing here on a Monday?” Eteibreit said quietly. “I thought you didn’t work Mondays.”
“I, er, remembered something I left here. I wanted to get to it before it was too late to.”
“Oh? I don’t believe you. But if that’s the truth, that’s fine. …just be prepared to work while you’re looking for it.”
Uil-Cur sighed. “Yes, Mrs. Eteibreit…say, will I get payed extra for putting in the work?”
Eteibreit’s tail swished. “That depends on whether you do a good job or not. Though you asking has me tempted to say no.”
She stomped her foot. “Get to work anyway, Haner. You won’t like what happens if you don’t.”
“Yes, ma’am, of course!” He turned away and fluttered his wings, tempted to fly to his workplace but scared of what might happen if he did.
‘I guess I should have been more discreet….or not come here at all. I’ll see Cahongyun tomorrow, anyway! There was no need to come here on a Monday…besides, just because we’re both here doesn’t mean we’re going to run into each other…’
“Haner?”
Uil-Cur flinched.
“What are you doing here today? I thought you said you didn’t work on Mondays.”
Uil-Cur glanced back to make sure he had heard correctly. Sure enough, Mit-Sun was standing there holding a stack of papers to her chest, looking at him with a confused expression.
He was stunned for only a moment before regaining his senses.
“Oh, um, I came here to get something I forgot, and Mrs. Eteibreit caught me and put me to work,” he said, his voice gradually becoming quieter. Mit-Sun sighed.
“Mrs. Eteibreit takes any chance to screw her workers over. Trust me, I’ve dealt with her far more times than you probably have.”
“I don’t doubt that,” he chuckled. “Still, it’s good to see you. You’re the only person at Eteibreit Data Storage I have any sort of meaningful relationship with, after all.”
Mit-Sun blinked as she placed the papers inside a locker. “Really?”
“Well, we might not be much of friends, but we’ve actually talked before. And I gave you those Makeshire tickets!”
Mit-Sun smiled. “Thank you for that. It was a nice night.”
“Your thanks are welcome, Cahongyun. In any event, I suppose we should get back to work. If this extra day can net me any extra pay, I’ll gladly take it. Work here is so painless I’d probably be alright with coming in every day. I wonder why Mrs. Eteibreit doesn’t ask that of me?”
“Who’d want to deal with her seven days a week? I wouldn’t.” Mit-Sun said. “Anyway, see you, Haner.”
A thought popped into Uil-Cur’s mind, and he was desperate to voice it. “Um, Cahongyun, I know we’re busy right now and you have your daughter to think about and all, but do you think we might be able to do something sometime soon? You know, like walking home together…”
Mit-Sun gave him a quizzical look. “Er, I’ll see. Anyways, bye, Haner.”
Uil-Cur waved, feeling as though he had made a grave mistake.

***

Uil-Cur tried to focus on his work, but today he couldn’t find it in him. He kept thinking of Mit-Sun and his last words to her.
‘What if I came on too strongly? I don’t know if Cahongyun likes that….oh, what’s the point in worrying about how strong I’m coming on? Even my confidence isn’t enough for me to trell her how I feel. She’s too far out of my league…’
“Haner?”
Uil-Cur flinched. Mit-Sun was standing a short distance away from him. “Sorry, are you still on your shift? I can go.”
“N-no, it’s fine! There’s only a couple minutes left and I’ve done all my work. Mrs. Eteibreit won’t notice if I spend the end of it talking, will she?” He said.
“Well, that depends. She is in her office right now, I guess.”
“What did you come here to talk about?”
“What you asked for earlier. What’s with your fascination with me? When we first met you wanted to walk home with me and talk to me, then you gave me the tickets soon after…what’s spurring this?”
Uil-Cur could see a suspicious look in Mit-Sun’s eyes. ‘Oh, she’s caught on,’ he thought to himself. ‘There’s got to be something else I can tell her aside from that, though…’
“Well, being honest,” he sighed, “I just…I’ve taken an…interest in you. As a friend. I don’t actually have all that much in the way of friends, and what I do have I wouldn’t say we’re so close. I guess what I’m saying is, I saw a potential friend in you. And I don’t know if you could tell, but I do like to have friends, heh heh.”
“Is that it? I thought it was something else.”
“Did you…” He said, glancing away from her.
“Well, I wouldn’t mind being friends with you, Haner,” she said. “But it’d be a little hard to keep up. I have La-Iin to think about after all, and it’d be nearly impossible to leave her alone…and I don’t know you well enough to want to invite you over.”
“That’s fine. Perhaps we will cultivate a friendship through work chats alone!”
“Maybe, but that doesn’t give us much time. Maybe I should ask someone to watch La-Iin soon. I know someone who’d take good care of her if I was out. But who knows.”
“…you’re really okay with taking time out of your day for me?”
“Why not? You seem nice enough. A little desperate though,” she said. “But I could always use a break from the same old thing every day. Lately I’ve been looking for other things to do aside from watching La-Iin and going to work. Maybe this will be a good chance for that.”
“Maybe,” he said.
“Well, whatever happens, I should get home now. Tell me if you have any ideas for something we could do, and we’ll see what happens. See you tomorrow, Haner!”
“See you, Cahongyun…er, Cahongyun?”
“What?”
“You know, I would be perfectly fine with you calling me Uil-Cur,” he said. “Sorry if I seem pushy about this, but I’m used to others calling me that. I don’t always react to Haner right away.”
“You seemed to react fine to me…well, if I remember we’ll see. See you tomorrow then, Uil-Cur.”
As Mit-Sun walked off, Uil-Cur was left in a daze, thinking over the last words she had said to him.
‘Maybe things will start going my way,’ he thought. A wide grin spread across his face and he couldn’t help but feel a little foolish.

Mit-Sun passed by Leirhyn on her way out the building.
“See you, Cahongyun!” Leirhyn called. Mit-Sun waved.
“See you, Leirhyn.”
“Hey, I just wanted to say something to you before you go.”
“What?”
“You and I should talk together again soon,” she said. “Maybe you could tell me a little more about that guy you keep hanging out with.”
“Who, Haner?”
“You know who~” She hummed. “Anyway, see you tomorrow, Cahongyun!”
“See you, Leirhyn?”

—–
The next day at work, Mit-Sun was greeted by flowers being thrust into her face.
“What are these for?” She asked Uil-Cur.
“Consider them thanks,” he said. “Many people before have been annoyed by my pursuing of them in friendship. Also, you have no idea how worried I was you would take my desire for friendship the wrong way. Now that I know you understand, I feel my old confidence is back. So here.”
“Um, thanks?”
“No need to thank me. These flowers are meant in thanks. Thank-yous lose a little of their point if they’re returned with more thanks.”
“If you say so,” she said. “Well, I have to get back to work, but Haner?”
“Yes?”
“Go ahead and call me Mit-Sun if you want,” she said. “Just don’t do it at work or Leirhyn might think you’re talking to her.”
Uil-Cur smiled. “Certainly.”
As he head back to his workplace, his heart felt light. ‘Maybe this is why they call love such a great feeling. Moments like these are wonderful!’

26.422.Whatever’s Your Goal

The La-Iin Series
Chapter 422
“Whatever’s Your Goal”

“Damn it, why send me out to do the shopping?” San-Kyung grumbled. “I get Dad is busy and all, but Mom could’ve come with me!”
“Griping, San-Kyung?”
When he heard the voice, San-Kyung instantly feared the worst. His instincts soon proved to be right–standing behind him was Kai-Rin, a wide smile on her face.
San-Kyung suppressed his urge to scream and started to stomp away.
“Hey, wait a second!” Kai-Rin called out. “Today I have no untoward intentions towards you! Not like I did on Valentine’s Day, but you see my point, don’t you? I heard your complaints, San-Kyung, and I know they’re about shopping. Remember, they say girls are natural shoppers, and I am one girl for whom that is true. …if you’re shopping for necessities, that is.”
San-Kyung glared. “I don’t care if you’re the shopping master of the world. Get out of my sight, Yukkini.”
“Kai-Rin, Kai-Rin. I told you, you can call me Kai-Rin. Isn’t that hard, I call you San-Kyung.”
“I call you Yukkini because you want me to call you Ka….that, if it wasn’t obvious.”
“It was, a little. But whatever. Come on, San-Kyung, let me help! I know what I’m doing, and if you’re having difficulty I can fix that. Hm, speaking of, is Dosa-Mina anywhere nearby today? He also strikes me as the type to be good at shopping. You could always ask–”
“No, he isn’t here,” San-Kyung snapped.
Kai-Rin sighed. “Oh, give me that.” She snatched the shopping list from him and began to look around. “Do your parents dislike downtown, San-Kyung? I get that it can be noisy most days but it’s pretty empty on Thursday from what I’ve seen, except during the night sometimes.”
“Shut up and give that back to me!”
“No way. You haven’t learned to treat anyone who’s not Dosa-Mina with kindness. Not asking you to, but if all you’re going to do is snap at me and try to hurt me, I feel that I can do the same!”
San-Kyung chased after Kai-Rin, who dashed off and began to head for a stall containing one of the items San-Kyung’s parents had wanted him to purchase. He only stopped chasing after her when he noticed the crowd watching him on all sides. At first he wanted to ignore them and keep chasing her, but he could already see curious looks in their eyes.
‘What if they call the police?’ He thought. ‘Shit, I think I might be stuck with her…’
“Catch up if you want, San-Kyung, but I’m going on ahead!” Kai-Rin called out. Growling and running his hands through his hair, he then near-ran after her, if only to make sure she wasn’t purchasing anything wrong.
“Glad to see you caught up with me,” she said cheerfully. “Don’t worry, San-Kyung, I’ll try and make this as painless as possible.”
“Your idea of painless isn’t painless at all!”
Kai-Rin grinned at him. While most others might have seen it as a normal, lighthearted grin, San-Kyung could only see it as one filled with malice.

“Well, that’s about everything on your parents’ list,” Kai-Rin said. “Say, San-Kyung, I don’t really remember, so enlighten me–are your parents Aesthetically Normal like you? Normal appearance? Perhaps a “Mixed Pumpkin” type of couple?”
“They look normal,” he snapped.
“I’m surprised they didn’t wait to have you until you would have been born in October,” she said. “Most couples of Pureblood Animated Pumpkins do, at least, that’s what I’ve heard at school. But you were born in…March, correct? That is nowhere near October.”
“Don’t. Remind. Me.” He growled.
“I’m not sure what’s better, the cold shoulder or the angered acknowledgement,” Kai-Rin sighed. “Sorry if I hit a bone of contention for you, San-Kyung. But, well, at least you have Halloween to look forward to, eh? Unless you like being Aesthetically Normal. Although, from watching you all the time, I never got that impression.”
Throughout the whole time he had been with Kai-Rin, San-Kyung found his patience was steadily decreasing. The comments she had begun to make about his appearance only drained it faster. In his rage he grabbed her shoulders and began to yell so loud he nearly spat in her face.
“Shut up, you disgusting stalker! Talk about whatever you want, but do it away from me! If you haven’t noticed already, I hate you! Why do you still even care that I exist!? I don’t care that you exist! What’s your problem!? What kind of idiot still likes someone who wishes she was dead!?”
Kai-Rin blinked hard at San-Kyung, and he was certain she was going to cry. That thought only made him tighten his grip around her shoulders. Kai-Rin glared and managed to wrestle free from his grasp, handed him most of the groceries, then stood a distance away from him.
“Give me that,” he snapped.
“No. ….San-Kyung, I don’t know if you cared to remember this, but I currently go to Hendoh High. Also known as, a species study school. I know you’re not exactly in peak strength in February. Once Spring hits that’s when your powers start to come back and grow strong again until they reach their peak in October. I’m not the strongest girl in the world, but I could probably fight you off right now. I’ve got your last grocery here, I hope you know. I want to say something to you on the subject of what you just said to me.”
“I don’t care. Give it here.”
“No, you’re going to hear me out or I’ll stomp a hoof in your eye. You won’t be able to get home then, will you?”
He struck his hand. “Just try to.”
Kai-Rin narrowed her eyes and blew out his hand-fire. San-Kyung gaped.
“I’m surprised that worked,” she said. “Something else I observed, San-Kyung, you were chasing me like a madman down downtown….ugh, that sounds off….up until you noticed a crowd was focused on you. At first I thought you might be showing a little shyness, until I remembered I don’t remember you being shy at all. If you’re a normal person, seeing someone chasing after someone at a high speed with an angry expression on their face and no regard for the fact that there’s a crowd nearby, well, it kind of gives off the wrong impression. As in, a really bad impression. Perhaps you were worried one of them would raise a ruckus and summon the police?”
He flinched.
“I’m right, aren’t I? You’re scared of the police, San-Kyung. It’s only natural. You never know what array of powers the police may have on their side. If they overtake you it’s jail, and I’ve noticed sentences are getting longer even for smaller crimes. You may wonder what’s the point of this observation. Well, simply put, a crowd’s not the only one who can raise a ruckus and summon the police!”
“What–”
“Hear me out, San-Kyung, or I will,” she said. “I’ve seen a very powerful and burly Minomix man on the force before. I wouldn’t try it. In any event, you asked why I would like, and still like, a boy who doesn’t like me, in fact hates me and wants me dead. There’s a simple reason for this. Many might say looks. Many women are attracted to height, for instance. And I can definitely say you are the tallest boy I know, with Dosa-Mina in second. But that’s not it. Maybe it’s your bad-boy factor. Lots of girls go for that nowadays too. But that still isn’t it. No, it’s something else entirely, San-Kyung.
“It’s that feeling I get from you.”
“What the…? That doesn’t make any sense.”
“Hear me out some more, then. San-Kyung, you are a young man who is highly intelligent, at least going off your grades from junior high. There are many things you can do, but you seem to devote your life to hatred. I might have chalked it up to you having a case of psychopathy, except for one thing–I can tell you love Dosa-Mina, and that is something a psychopath cannot do.”
San-Kyung glared.
“Obviously, below all that hatred is genuine love. You feel things, San-Kyung, even with all that hatred covering it up. And I believe below there, there is a part of you who wants something more from this world. I can’t tell what it is. I may know lots about you, but even I can’t get into your mind and heart. All I know is that you have emotions, whether weak or strong, that you’re hiding, and you give off this feeling that makes me think you want something, something perhaps not as malicious as one observing you might think.”
San-Kyung blinked in surprise.
“Well, you seem put-off. Ah, but, well, that’s just my observation. I could be wrong, but San-Kyung, if it’s true that there is more you want from this world, then reach for it yourself. If you have a dream you wish to pursue, do it. And I don’t mean something evil like ruling the world. I mean something more normal. Find that more you want from the world and make your life a happier one. I may want you as my boyfriend with every fiber of my being, but seeing you happy I want even more. A typical line, but it’s true in this case.”
San-Kyung did not respond.
“Well, here you go, the rest of your groceries. I know I threatened you into it, but I’m glad you heard me out, San-Kyung. It was something I wanted to get off my chest. If not for that feeling I feel from you, I don’t think I would be in love with you. Don’t get me wrong, I do think you are adorable. But that is not enough for me to fall for someone. Whatever makes you happy, San-Kyung, pursue. Don’t hold yourself back because of appearances or the opinions of other people. Make it so that you can smile. I’m going to be doing that someday, so why not you, too?”
She turned around. “Perhaps someday, Dosa-Mina will be able to find out what that feeling inside you really is. I wouldn’t put it past him. Keep him as your friend, San-Kyung. I think he’s good for you. Well, I should get back home before I piss you off more. Arrivaderci, San-Kyung! Until the day we meet again!”
Kai-Rin then trotted off. San-Kyung stared blankly after her.
Kai-Rin’s words had begun to stir a dormant sadness inside him. ‘She’s making things up. Stupid idiot. At least she’s gone now.’
One of the grocery bags felt abnormal. San-Kyung was certain that his parents had not asked for anything that heavy. He checked inside.
Inside was a small box and a note.

To San-Kyung:
This is to make up for Valentine’s Day. I hope you like it. Share it with Dosa-Mina if you feel so inclined!
With much love,
Yukkini Kai-Rin

San-Kyung grimaced. “What an idiot…”

—–
“San-Kyung, you still have chocolate? I thought you ate all of it!” Del-Kyuus asked.
“I did,” he groaned.
“If you don’t like it, you could give it to me. I don’t mind.”
“No, I’ll eat it…”
Del-Kyuus grinned. “Why, is it chocolate from a crush?”
San-Kyung glared. “Aw, I was just messing with you, San-Kyung. I know, it’s because you secretly like chocolate.”
San-Kyung gave another groan. ‘I really should give the rest of this to Dosa-Mina…but whatever’s inside this is pretty good.’
He wouldn’t be able to admit such a sentiment out loud, of course.

19.415.Rini-Futo’s Truth

The La-Iin Series
Chapter 415
“Rini-Futo’s Truth”

Break time had arrived, and Nemi-Hikla glanced around the class before giving her claw polish an update. She could see that some students were already starting to sniff the air–Xhen-Bei made it obvious enough that the students around him asked what he was doing.
While putting the finishing touches on, she was startled by a student walking up to her desk. Rini-Futo was staring up at her wide-eyed.
“You–you’re not going to tell on me, are you?”
“No.”
Nemi-Hikla sighed. “Alright, good. Did you need something from me, Shaejaein?”
“I wanted to ask you for advice…”
“On what? Math class? You’re pretty good at math already, Shaejaein.”
“No, not on math class…” She said quietly. “Um, I wanted to know if, well…do you know how to tell someone that you like them?”
“Just tell them?” Rini-Futo opened her mouth in rebuttal, but Nemi-Hikla quickly realized what she was trying to say.
“What the–!? Why do you want to know that, Shaejaein!? You’re only ten! Savor the time you have before teenage crushes for as long as possible!”
“Cahongyun has a crush on someone already and she’s only seven,” Rini-Futo said, pouting. Nemi-Hikla was thoroughly surprised as she continued on. “I just really want to say something…I know he won’t like it, but…”
“Don’t tell me you’ve got the hots for San-Kyung too,” she sighed. Rini-Futo’s eyes widened in horror and she shook her head.
“No! Who I like is a lot nicer…a-and he gets really happy when someone cares about what he does…and it’s so easy to touch his heart…”
“Iiii have no idea who you’re talking about. Mind giving me an actual name to work with?”
“I can’t!” She said. “You’ll have to guess. If everyone else finds out I just know they’ll laugh at me.”
‘Geez, what happened to that shy little girl I knew?’ Rini-Futo was still obviously feeling shy about the whole ordeal, but her determination to confess was obvious to Nemi-Hikla.
“Alright, let’s see…Dslellular, maybe? He likes it when someone asks him about species study, I’ve seen…I bet that would touch his heart too, so that’s easy…”
Rini-Futo shook her head. “Huh? Not him? Okay….Yuuldang? He’s easy to make happy, so his heart might be easy to touch….but I don’t know what he’d do that people would care all that much about…”
Rini-Futo shook her head. Nemi-Hikla sighed. “You know, you’re only giving me a little bit to work off of, and break time’s almost over. You might have to save this for the next–”
“Just guess.”
Nemi-Hikla started to wrack her brain. ‘She’s not going to leave me alone until I get this right, is she….’
“Song-Jpinne? He fits your criteria, maybe. I don’t really know.”
She shook her head. ‘I guess I’m just going to have to give a shot in the dark….I think she probably knows more about this boy than I do.’
“Gyurkang?”
She shook her head.
“Xhephekuda?”
She shook her head.
Nemi-Hikla groaned. “Fyuori?”
She shook her head.
“Kerushao? Don’t tell me it’s him. He’s a taken man, Shaejaein.”
“No, it’s not any of them,” she sighed. “I barely know some of those boys you mentioned…”
“Don’t tell me it’s someone from another class. Then I definitely can’t help you.”
“No, it’s someone from Class D. And he’s always here, without fail, except for when he gets in trouble…”
Nemi-Hikla gave another groan. Just then, Theasis walked into the classroom. Rini-Futo panicked and head back to her desk.
‘He’s happy whenever people care about what he does. It’s easy to touch his heart. And except when he gets in trouble, he’s always here, without fail…..’

***

When it had clicked in Nemi-Hikla’s head who Rini-Futo might be talking about, she was horrified.
After the students had moved to their secondary classroom, Rini-Futo walked up to Nemi-Hikla’s desk again, staring up at her still with wide, but determined, eyes.
“Di–did you figure it out? Can you help me?”
“Shaejaein…don’t tell me you…”
“Huh?”
“You’ve seriously got a crush on Mr. Chensu?”
Rini-Futo’s face turned a dark red and she backed away from Nemi-Hikla’s desk. Nemi-Hikla gave a tiny shriek.
“Oh my God! I was kidding, a little!”
“Who has a crush on Mr. Chensu?” Gen-Reiya asked. Rini-Futo tried to run back to her desk, but Gen-Reiya noticed her attitude before she could make it away.
“What!?”
“I was just kidding! Okay, well, maybe only a little bit, but–”
Rini-Futo made it back to her desk, embarrassment overtaking all her other emotions as the class erupted with discussion about her. It wasn’t long before many students were shrieking about the idea of one of their own having a crush on Mr. Chensu.
And hearing all that talk only made her feel worse.
When Hyungdarou walked into the classroom, she stared at the students with surprise in her eyes. “Normally you all are very quiet before biology, or at least, quiet for you all. Must I shout “shut up” as Mr. Chensu does?”
“Funny that you’d bring up Mr. Chensu, Miss Hyungdarou,” Lirako giggled.
“Why? Did something happen to him during class?” She blinked. “No, that couldn’t be it. I’d have heard of it already….now quiet, all of you. Today we’ll be focusing on the livers of the species and the ways they work.”
“Liver?” Dosa-Mina said, then gave a quiet groan.
As Hyungdarou began to give her lesson on livers, Rini-Futo could still hear some students talking about the subject. Lirako in particular giggled constantly throughout biology, to the point where Hyungdarou stopped her lesson to talk to her.
“Miss Sanyaow, is it my lesson that you find so funny, or is it whatever’s making you laugh so hard about Mr. Chensu? Whichever it is, I’d appreciate it if you’d stop it now.”
“I’m sorry,” she wheezed. “Just…someone having a crush on Mr. Chensu…that’s a riot!
“Hm?” Rini-Futo froze. “Is that all you find so interesting? That’s ridiculous. …I admit my curiosity is piqued in this regard but we’re having class right now. Save your giggles for later.’
Rini-Futo gently laid her face on her desk. She was ready for this school day to be done.

“I’m so sorry, Shaejaein,” Nemi-Hikla said as Rini-Futo passed by her desk. “I should have known what would happen. I just–”
“Don’t talk to me,” she snapped. Nemi-Hikla flinched and bowed her head. As Rini-Futo passed by Lirako’s desk, she glared at her. Lirako stifled a giggle.
Of all her family, and even among her fellow students, Rini-Futo had always felt she was much slower to anger than most other people she knew. Even in the midst of an infuriating situation, she found she managed to stay calm throughout most of it. And she had been expecting, once the class found out the truth, to simply be embarrassed and hide herself away from them.
But instead she was furious, particularly at Nemi-Hikla but even moreso with Lirako. Her wings twitched in agitation at the thought of the two teenage girls, and remembering Nemi-Hikla’s apology didn’t make her feel any better–in fact, it made her more angry at her.
As she head to the restroom, she picked up on some nearby voices.
“Apparently the students were laughing because someone has a crush on Mr. Chensu,” she heard Hyungdarou said.
“It must be one of the students….wait a second…”
“What is it, Miss Theasis?”
“I think Miss Shaejaein has a crush on Mr. Chensu…I remember talking with her parents once and they believed that Mr. Chensu had illicit feelings towards her, but the way they described how she acted about him, I was certain it was that she had feelings for him…”
Rini-Futo cringed. ‘So even the teachers know.’ She head off to the restroom. ‘I don’t even know why I wanted to tell him in the first place. He’d never say okay….’

Classes ended for the day, and Rini-Futo watched students leave, listening out for anyone who might be talking about her crush. La-Iin and Fer-Shi were conversing as they left, but they were talking about powers from what she could hear. Shan-Zetsu left on his own, whistling. Yefu-Shenhao waved to her and then left with Fei-Zhust.
The younger students didn’t seem to mind as much, but the older students she could hear talking about her–particularly Lirako, whose voice drowned out all others and who went on about it the longest. The students nearby stifled giggles, but none of them seemed as intrigued as Lirako herself did.
As they mingled with students from other classes on their way out, Rini-Futo spotted Mr. Chensu walking out the faculty room. She gasped and tried to hide in the crowd.
“I know, I know, I keep going on about it. I’ll stop. But you know, there are just some people you don’t expect people to get crushes on, ever. Mr. Chensu is one of them. I mean, I can see him getting crushes on ladies, but vice-versa? How weird!”
“What are you talking about, Miss Sanyaow?”
Lirako grinned. “Oh, Mr. Chensu! Heard your name and crush in the same sentence?”
“I heard my name,” he said. Lirako’s grin widened. “How conceited.”
“Wh-what were you talking about?”
“I’d better stop talking about it. Everyone else is getting irritated with me. You might have luck asking someone else, though! See ya!”
“What was that all about?” Mr. Chensu said quietly. As Rini-Futo walked on with the crowd, she was tempted to just keep going. But at the same time, the idea of letting Mr. Chensu get his hopes up upset her. She didn’t think it would be fair to keep him in the dark.
“Um, Mr. Chensu?”
“Hm? Miss Shaejaein, is that you?”
She stepped out the crowd. “Um….can I talk to you in private?”
“Uh, sure,” he said. Rini-Futo nodded and walked off with Mr. Chensu. Once she was sure no students or faculty were nearby, she took a deep breath.
“You heard Sanyaow talking abou…about someone having a crush on you…didn’t you?”
“How did you know? Was it that obvious?” He sighed. “I was just curious, that’s all…”
“Um, well…I’m sorry, the answer is kind of disappointing…”
“Huh?” A look of realization dawned on his face. “Oh. Well, that’s not actually all that surprising–”
‘Did he figure it out or is he making assumptions?’ To be safe, Rini-Futo decided to carry on with her original plan. She sucked in a breath, then said,
“It’s me, Mr. Chensu! I’m the one who has a crush on you!”
Mr. Chensu’s eyes widened, and Rini-Futo felt that same embarrassment spread across her once again. “I…I’m sorry…”
Mr. Chensu was silent for a long while before saying, “…um, thank you, Miss Shaejaein, I’m flattered, but…”
“I know,” she said.
“Well, that’s obvious….I see you as just a student, and besides, you’re a lot younger than me. So…”
“I wish I was as old as you,” she said. “Then maybe…”
“Don’t worry so much about it, Miss Shaejaein,” Mr. Chensu said, patting her on the head. “I’m sure it’ll hurt for now. I know what it feels like to be rejected, trust me….but you have your whole life ahead of you. Someday you’ll find someone nice who’s in your age range.”
“If only I was closer to nineteen,” she sighed. “Then maybe…”
“Even if you were, I’d still have to say no, Miss Shaejaein,” he said. “I can’t see you that way. You’re my student!”
Rini-Futo looked away from him.
“…I’m sorry too,” he said. “But I really think you’ll be better off this way. You are a nice girl. There’s got to be someone out there who will like you back…and who’s closer in age to you. But you should get home for now. Really, there’s nothing else I can say to you…”
“Okay,” she sniffled. “…sorry, Mr. Chensu.”
“It’s alright. Go on, go home now.”
Rini-Futo nodded and began to fly off, picking up speed gradually. She wanted to be out of Mr. Chensu’s sight as soon as possible.

—–
“Poor Mr. Chensu. First person who gets a crush on him, and it’s a little girl…”