10.648.Confronted Once More

The La-Iin Series
Chapter 648
“Confronted Once More”

La-Iin had had a thought, Friday after classes.
As she watched the students head out the classroom, some chatting with friends before and as they left, her eyes were focused on Ai-Reia, who waved to Im-Dei and Shuera-Kaizima as they departed.
La-Iin sighed to herself. After her disastrous encounters with Ai-Reia earlier in the year, she had given up on the girl. It seemed her plan to ignite evil feelings in her had backfired, and that if she had any such feelings they were now directed towards her instead of working in her favor. Still, as she thought on her plans for Hypotheory, she found Ai-Reia popping into her head more than once.
‘She almost seems a little goody-goody now. That wouldn’t be surprising. Fyuori and Kokohara are goody-goodies, I think. I wonder if I can do something with that…’
Ai-Reia’s smarts were always one of the things La-Iin figured would be most helpful on her side. Now that it seemed quite likely she was permanently against her, it seemed more like a significant problem.
So La-Iin had made a decision. She was going to approach Ai-Reia for the first time in a while. She watched Ai-Reia closely as she waved to Kim-Koou, then stalked over to her.
“Where’re you going, La-Iin?”
La-Iin turned around and glared. Fer-Shi had been the one to speak up.
“Ahead of you,” she said coolly. “See you Monday, Fer-Shi. At the latest.”
“Um, okay? See you Monday, I guess?”
La-Iin shook her head. She walked up behind Ai-Reia and tapped her on the back.
“Eek!” Ai-Reia turned around, her eyes wide.
“A student told me he wanted to talk to you before you go,” La-Iin said. “I know you don’t like me, but he seemed shy about speaking up and turned to me for help.”
Ai-Reia glared. “What the…are you serious…” She scoffed. “La-Iin, you seem only smart enough to remember I don’t like you, La-Iin. Why should I believe you? You wouldn’t do this, I can guarantee it. You don’t care enough about others to do so.”
“How do you know? I have friends in school. But okay. You don’t want to do it. I guess I could always tell him about you trying to kill me, then.”
Ai-Reia’s eyes widened. “What–! I–”
La-Iin smirked. “Come with me, Ai-Reia. I’m sure he’s getting impatient.”
“Ho–how do I know this mystery boy even exists?”
“Oh, he does, but if you want me to raise the stakes I could tell the entire class as well as him. Oh Class D~–”
“Fine, fine, I’ll come with you! Geez, who even said that the class would believe you…”
Her common sense was telling her that even if La-Iin told the class she wouldn’t be believed, but on the inside she was terrified. La-Iin’s words only reminded her of the dark time in her life, and she didn’t want to think on that even if other students chalked La-Iin’s words up to a silly rumor.
As far as she was concerned, all that could stay in the past.
La-Iin led her outside and a short distance away from the crowd leaving Malicerie. She faced Ai-Reia with her usual expression.
“So? Where’s this boy?”
“He doesn’t exist.”
Ai-Reia scoffed. “I should have known! I shouldn’t have let your threat get the better of me. Forget you! I have to head home.” She turned away from La-Iin.
“I’ll still tell Class D, you know.”
Ai-Reia froze.
“Why are you so concerned? Who even says they’ll believe me?”
“Exactly. The problem is…I’ll remember.” Ai-Reia turned around. “Fine, you win, La-Iin. What do you want?”
“Oh, to talk. It’s been so long.”
Ai-Reia huffed. “Let me guess. This is about me ‘assisting’ you. That’s not happening.”
“I thought you would say that. You’ve gone soft, Ai-Reia.”
“Are you serious? This is the way I prefer to live life. Admittedly having friends wasn’t in my initial plan, but I’d prefer this than being miserable.”
“I see.”
“If you’re done here, then I’m heading home.”
“But the thing is, it’s not about you assisting me, Ai-Reia.”
Ai-Reia turned around.
“It’s about earlier this year. I gave up on you assisting me. But it certainly seems like you don’t want to oppose me anymore. I was curious about that.”
“You must be deluded. I don’t want to, I just will if it’s necessary. But the police would likely do a better job of that than I could.”
La-Iin snickered. “Are you sure?”
“Yes. I’m sure. In case you don’t remember, they have power suppressants on their side. Suppressants for powers which are basically all that is keeping you from being the weakling you really are.”
“Oh, it sounds like I heard the real Ai-Reia.”
Ai-Reia huffed. “Don’t talk to me, La-Iin. I want nothing to do with you. I will fight you if necessary but our rivalry, if you could call it something as simple as that, is a thing of the past. I am happier without you bothering me and I’m certain you’ve found other people to use. I almost feel sorry for that poor Sara girl–I’ve seen you talk to her a few times.”
“…how?”
Ai-Reia only answered with another huff. She turned away from La-Iin once again.
“Fine then, Ai-Reia, I understand. You just want to do your goody-goody stuff now. Then you can do that. I don’t need you. But remember to stay consistent.”
“What do you mean by that?”
“Don’t slip up,” she said. “Those with evil hearts are always evil at heart.”
“I think you’ve forgotten I don’t prescribe to the morality scale?”
“I know. I’m just telling you, if you want to keep your life the way it is, then work for it. Otherwise everyone will know how you really are.”
La-Iin spread her wings and flew off. Ai-Reia watched her.
“What was that all about?”
As she joined the other students on the path out of Malicerie, it nagged at her.
‘She’s just trying to get to me, saying I have an evil heart. But still…why did she say that? Is she going to tell the school what I tried to do anyway? Did she notice I had a monster in me? Just why did she say that?’
Ai-Reia sighed. ‘Oh, what’s the point in thinking on what that idiot says! Calm down, Ai-Reia. You’re fine.’

—–
‘I hope that worked.’
As La-Iin flew back home, she felt both confident and uncertain.
‘Ai-Reia was thrown off by my behavior once before. Maybe now she’ll get thrown off again. I hope so…’
She shook her head. ‘There’s always plenty of time to plan.’ She picked up her pace.

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9.647.A Reason to Trust You

The La-Iin Series
Chapter 647
“A Reason to Trust You”

It was dinner time at the Sara house, and all in the family were sitting at the table–all except for Nim-Ghini.
“Your father has been letting himself get arrested too much lately, I swear.”
That, as it happened, was the source of the conversation at the table.
“Certainly, I wonder if he’s losing his finesse.”
“That’s why we, the next generation, should take his place!”
“In due time, Kyu-Aseri. You two lack the physical strength needed to take over completely.”
“What about me? I’m nearly a major. Of course, that’s going by law…which I don’t.”
“Hm, true…”
“I think you don’t deserve to head the Saras right now, Ther-Aoughin.”
“And what would make you say that, Kyu-Nhogo?”
“What you have over Kyu-Aseri and I in physical strength, you lack in mental torture.”
“I do prefer to just assault people and end it.”
“That’s your problem. You lack the finesse of mental torture. That and manipulation.”
“Oh, sweet, sweet, manipulation! I have to say that is my favorite of all the mental tortures. Have you manipulated anyone before, Mama?”
“Aha ha. What a stupid question to ask, Kyu-Aseri, of course I have. I’ve manipulated Ther-Aoughin, and I’ve manipulated Shuu-Kena, and I manipulated your father into getting me pregnant with her, speaking of…I’ve even manipulated you and Kyu-Nhogo.”
“Ooh!”
“Manipulation is a staple of an evil person. You should learn it in due time, Ther-Aoughin. You can ask Kyu-Aseri and Kyu-Nhogo about it. It seems to be their field of expertise.”
“I see. And I suppose in turn I could help them bulk up to do physical damage. All in the interest of the supremacy of the Saras.”
Shuu-Kena poked at her food.
“Is it really a staple of an evil person, manipulation?”
“Why do you ask, Shuu-Kena?”
“A neutral such as herself apparently does not understand the goings-on of the evil mind.”
“Even with an evil ‘friend’ herself.”
“I would say it is, Shuu-Kena. In fact, I just did. Manipulation is very important to evil people, and knowing how to do it well even moreso. We live in a world where sometimes it’s easier to use people than it is to just mindlessly beat them out of your way. Any evil person worth their salt is a manipulator whether good or bad, and if they aren’t thinking of it they’re either ignorant or they might as well be neutral.”
“True, if you’re evil you’ll likely manipulate others in some way or another!”
“Especially if one has lofty political goals such as domination over an area. Manipulation is a trick of the trade for politicians as well!”
Her family began to laugh raucously, but their talk only made Shuu-Kena feel uncomfortable. She could remember why she and La-Iin had become friends–she had only opened up to her once she knew her family was evil.
Was it possible La-Iin was manipulating her?

***

The next day at school, Shuu-Kena couldn’t help but heave a sigh.
Science class had just ended, and now she sat on the bench in the recess area, watching La-Iin and Fer-Shi play. She wasn’t one to believe what her family said, but it did make her wonder.
It was impossible to know if La-Iin was manipulating her unless she did something to outright prove it. But with the circumstances of their friendship, she felt there was reason to be concerned.
She watched as Cae-Bougen flew up behind Fer-Shi, who was falling off the monkey bars. La-Iin began to laugh, and Fer-Shi growled at her. Cae-Bougen said something that she couldn’t understand, and Fer-Shi smiled in response. She turned back to La-Iin, again said something that couldn’t be understood, and went off with him.
La-Iin seemed frustrated. She flew over Shuu-Kena’s head. Shuu-Kena waved to her.
“Oh, hello, Sara.”
“Hi, La-Iin.”
‘Wait. Fer-Shi’s off with Veiner right now. Maybe this is my chance to get an idea of where I stand…’
Shuu-Kena knew she didn’t want to stop being friends with La-Iin, but perhaps it would at least be reassuring to know whether she was being manipulated or not.
“Good timing. Can I talk to you about something?”
La-Iin landed and stood in front of her. “What?”
“I wanted to ask your opinion on something my family told me about yesterday.” La-Iin rolled her eyes. “You know how they’re evil. Well, my mom and my siblings said that they think that manipulation is a defining trait in every evil person, and evil people who don’t manipulate others might as well be neutral. Basically. I wanted to know what you thought.”
“Manipulation is a helpful skill for an evil person,” La-Iin said. Shuu-Kena lowered her head. “I don’t know about evil people who don’t know manipulation being neutrals, though.”
“I see…well, I guess it would be. It makes sense…manipulation seems like one of those ‘evil’ actions. Of course evil people would like it.”
‘Don’t get so upset!’ She chided herself. ‘You knew this was probably coming. It doesn’t mean she doesn’t care about you. Although it probably says something about her priorities…’
Shuu-Kena couldn’t help but feel immensely disappointed in La-Iin. And La-Iin could tell by the look on her face.
‘Damn it! No! Not so close! Now she believes I think the same way as those Sara idiots. What now…’
La-Iin bit into her finger.
“…of course, not every evil person uses that manipulation, or at least, not constantly,” she said casually. Shuu-Kena looked up.
“You don’t have to reassure me, La-Iin.”
“I was just saying the truth. Besides…” La-Iin pondered her next words carefully. “Not everyone I associate with needs to be manipulated. Like you, for example.”
“Huh?”
“If I were to manipulate you it would probably be for information on your family…which I don’t need because in my opinion, your family is nothing but evil failures! No, I keep you as a friend for different reasons.”
“Like what?”
“You’re enjoyable to be around.”
“Really?”
“Yes. I don’t like to associate with people who annoy me constantly. Such as your family.”
Shuu-Kena’s dejected expression slowly brightened, though La-Iin could see she still wasn’t completely happy.
“You really don’t like them, huh. I always thought that was kind of strange.”
“Evil people don’t always get along, Sara. I think we get along even worse than goody-goodies do.”
“Maybe. That sounds like it would make sense.”
“Sara, you need to learn a lesson.”
“Hm?”
“I’m not the same as your family just because I’m evil. You said it yourself, you see me as different. So quit it.”
Shuu-Kena nodded. “Yeah, sorry, Cahongyun. You’re right. Sometimes even though I know you better than that, I can’t help but find my mind slipping back into that mindset. I guess I just have a hard time trusting evil people. I have nothing against them, but my family tends to make me think they’re all the same…but they’re just like good people and neutral people, all doing things for different reasons. I’m sorry I compared you two.”
“You should be, and I don’t like accepting apologies, but being compared to those failures is horrible.”
Shuu-Kena nodded. La-Iin smirked. ‘Good. This should be good enough for now. But she seems easy enough to appease. Convincing her entirely will be another story…but I can’t let her stupid family make her turn against me. I need her on my side.’
La-Iin sighed. ‘That reminds me of someone else I thought that about…’

—–
“Oh, I wanted to ask you something about manipulation, Mama.”
“What’s that, Kyu-Aseri?”
“Do you think Shuu-Kena’s friend manipulates her?” She said with a yawn.
“If she’s truly evil, then yes, she does. But that’s not important. Rest now so that tomorrow you have the energy to do what is necessary.”
Kyu-Aseri nodded and closed her eyes.

6.644.Backlash

The La-Iin Series
Chapter 644
“Backlash”

Students walking to school on Tuesday were quick to notice that Dosa-Mina was, as yesterday, assuming his Werewolf-Siren form.
He was ahead of most of the crowd, talking quietly with San-Kyung. To some he looked slightly happier than yesterday; others thought his smile seemed fake.
Lirako in particular kept a close eye on him. ‘Wow. I expected a big reaction out of him, but this has just been weird. First he stops coming to school, then he’s all depressed, and now he’s coming here in his true form. Which is pretty weird…I wonder what changed? It all seems kinda drastic.’
As much as Lirako wanted to approach him and ask him about it, she knew it wouldn’t work. Even if the school wasn’t actively preventing her from talking to him, he would have never told her.

After the first class, Lirako found herself quickly becoming bored just waiting for math class to start. Noticing that Deki-Tyunri didn’t appear to be talking to anyone nor doing anything, she decided to talk to him.
“Hey, Deki-Tyunri!”
Deki-Tyunri said nothing.
“Don’t give me the cold shoulder, Deks.”
“I don’t have a shoulder.”
“Aw, come on.” Lirako stood in front of his desk. “I know we haven’t been talking as much recently, but we’ve been friends for ages. Me having to sit away from you shouldn’t change that.”
Lirako flinched when she noticed the expression on Deki-Tyunri’s face. He looked quite angry.
“Deks?”
“Lirako, I don’t think our friendship is going to be broken by you not talking to me, or even by what I’m mad at you for. But…I just don’t want to talk to you right now!”
“Why not!?”
“Don’t you realize what you did!? Even if Dslellular is okay with it now, you revealed his species to the class against his will. And he was clearly very upset when you did. There must have been a good reason he was keeping it a secret.”
“How do you know!? Do you have any guarantee that it was for a good reason?”
“No, but do you have any guarantee it was for a pointless reason?”
“Er…”
“What you did wasn’t right, Lirako, and it made me really disappointed in you. I just…I need time to calm down before we talk to each other again.”
“I–”
“Sorry, Sanyaow, but I’d have to agree,” Xhen-Bei said. “I don’t think Dslellular should have hid his species either, but you went about it wrong. So I think you should just let Elyshen cool out for now.”
“Is everyone mad at me for this?”
Many of the students began to look uncomfortable.
“It sounded like there was blackmail involved. It’s definitely changed my perception of you,” Mi-Kou said.
“I think it’s awfully immature what you did, even though I cannot understand why someone would hide their species like that,” Ai-Reia said.
“I don’t understand the whole situation, but you hadn’t been treating Dslellular well for a while before that. You should have tried to reason with him to explain it instead of do what you did, that’s what I think,” Song-Jpinne said.
Lirako was dumbfounded. She folded her ears to her head. Out the corner of her eye, she noticed San-Kyung and Dosa-Mina were staring her way.
Only briefly, she caught a glimpse of them wearing satisfied smiles.

***

“Llanni, can I talk to you before we get to biology?”
“Sure.”
“Oh, thank goodness,” Lirako sighed. “I really thought you weren’t gonna talk to me.”
“Hey, I’d, like, have no right to avoid you. I was in on it too. But people usually don’t talk to me, so I haven’t noticed anything different.”
Lirako scratched her face. “Let’s talk away from the crowd.”
The two girls head outside. Airy-Aekok peeked into an open faculty door on their way out.
“I just don’t get it! I know I wasn’t that nice to Dosa-Mina before, but he wasn’t nice to me either! And it’s not like I revealed some sort of horribly embarrassing secret about him. It’s his species! Sooner or later someone would’ve found out. I bet San-Kyung already knew!”
“I think we can pretty much guarantee that,” Airy-Aekok said.
“And it’s not even the most uncommon species in the world! Both those species happen more often with Normal, and yeah, it is kind of weird that he’s a male half-Siren. But isn’t that infamous kid in Class B one too?”
“I don’t know what you’re talking about.”
Lirako sighed. “I guess you wouldn’t…but yeah! It’s not like he’s a Werewolf-Lizardfoot or something like that! He’s not a Tribreed! His species may not be a Cahongyun, but it certainly isn’t a Ferister!”
Airy-Aekok smirked.
“So–so what am I gonna do? I know I’m being selfish here, but I don’t wanna lose my friends! Deki-Tyunri is one thing. I believe him when he says that we’ll probably stay friends even if he’s mad at me right now. But what about everyone else? They’re just school friends!”
Lirako sobbed. “If I had known this was gonna happen, I would have never opened my big mouth!”
“Me too.”
Lirako focused on Airy-Aekok. “In fact, I’m gonna, like, tell you a secret, Lirako. Well, it’s not much of a secret, but I’m gonna tell you anyway. I was startin’ to think this was a mistake as soon as Dosa-Mina found out we knew. He seemed really upset.”
“He did,” Lirako sighed.
“But instead of thinking about it, we got caught up in the excitement of the secret. It’s both of our faults. You wanted to find this out so badly, you were doing everything to, like, figure it out. I actually went lookin’ for it. And then we told him. And then the school. We just kept messin’ up. And then after we told him, I didn’t tell you I thought it was a bad idea. But yanno, maybe it would’ve been too late by then too.”
“Why?”
“Then he’d be all upset! Wonderin’ when we might, like, tell the whole school what he really is…but it wasn’t our business, Lirako. We should’ve just left him alone. For his sake and ours.”
Lirako sighed. “But what the other students don’t seem to get is, maybe it is a good thing we said it. I know I was mean to him and sure, he was really upset at first, but now look at him. He came here yesterday and today in his true form like he’s proud of it, and even though he cried yesterday it didn’t seem like he was really breaking down.”
“I dunno about that.”
Lirako sighed. “You’re right. There’s no way we can make an excuse for this. I’ll just have to face it: we f@%ked up. And now nobody wants to have anything to do with me.”
“That isn’t true, Lirako! I’ll talk to you at least. I messed up too. We’ll have each other while you’re waitin’ for the school to stop bein’ mad at you.”
“Thanks, Llanni. But what if after all this, I’m not popular anymore? I like having all those friends and that attention. If I messed up in Grade 12 there’s no going back!”
“I’ll teach ya how to deal with that.”
Lirako blinked. “How are you taking this so easily?”
“I dunno. But I think it’s the way we should go about this. I mean after all, Dosa-Mina was all upset when his species was found out and like you said, now he seems happy. So maybe we should just take this as a lesson.”
“Yeah, I guess.”
“Or we could apologize.”
Lirako’s eyes widened. “I think I’ll leave it at lesson. As much as I would like everyone to forgive me, I can’t apologize to him. I feel bad, but not because of him. I still can’t stand him.”
“Oh, Sanyaow.” Airy-Aekok shook her head. “Maybe we should go back inside. It’s probably almost biology.”
“Yeah.”
As the two girls walked back inside, Airy-Aekok said, “Hey, if we’re gonna talk, it’s okay to call me Airy-Aekok. My Dad is called Officer Llanni so it’s like, kinda weird bein’ called Llanni.”
“Alright. Then I guess you can call me Sanyaow.”
“Cool!”
Lirako chuckled.

—–
After classes that day, Lirako sighed.
“I can’t believe a thirteen year old is more mature than me. I need to work on my maturity.”
“I’m fourteen now, Lirako.”
“What!? Since when!?”
“Since Saturday.”
“Really?”
Airy-Aekok nodded.
“Well…that doesn’t change anything! I can’t believe someone younger than me is more mature than me. Or, rather, that you are. After what you did earlier this year…no offense, of course.”
“Don’t worry. I’m just tryin’ to learn lessons from what I do. That incident was the start of it all. So I’m glad you notice my efforts!”
“Heh, you could definitely give me a few pointers, then.”
Deki-Tyunri, who had overheard the girls’ conversation, smiled from his seat. ‘I know you’re not a bad person, Lirako. I would agree you need to work on your maturity, though…’

5.643.Break Out

The La-Iin Series
Chapter 643
“Break Out”

Break out and show the real world,
I’ll be the one to follow you
Don’t turn away by this point
Keep going, just keep on going…

When he heard the sound of footsteps, Dosa-Mina stopped singing and turned to the door. Elai-Riya opened it seconds later.
“Oh, sorry, I didn’t know you were up. And you’re already dressed, too!”
“Well, it’s Monday.” He pulled his hair out the collar of his shirt. “I need to go to school.”
Elai-Riya nodded. “Orlin-Aesth made some breakfast steak. You have time, so come eat with us before you go.”
Dosa-Mina nodded.
He was still feeling as bad as he had in recent days, but ever since October had started, he had started to try and cheer himself up, if for nobody else’s sake, for San-Kyung’s.
‘I don’t want him to keep being worried about me.’ That determination had kept him from giving into the worst of the negative feelings that had surfaced in him.
Dosa-Mina joined Orlin-Aesth and Elai-Riya at the table. A steak with an egg on top of it was sitting there for him.
“What, no vegetables?” Dosa-Mina said with a chuckle.
“Hey, come on. Vegetables would just ruin breakfast steak!”
“Ha ha.” Dosa-Mina began to poke at the steak. He cut it and began to eat.
“Hey, Dosa-Mina?”
“Hm?”
Orlin-Aesth scratched the back of his neck. “You look like you’ve been doing a little better lately. And I’m glad, I don’t want to see you unhappy, after all. But I’m just worried.”
“About what?”
“Well, San-Kyung told us about a Catori girl and he also mentioned a Llamaki and kind of hinted that they were bullying you,” he said. “And me and Elai-Riya were thinking, if those girls are still going to Malicerie, who’s to say they won’t bully you again?”
“I’m worried they might see your cuts,” Elai-Riya said.
Dosa-Mina was starting to feel dejected. He knew his parents meant well, but their words only made him feel worse about the situation.
“One of them is in Grade 12, and her grades aren’t horrible,” he said quietly, poking at the steak again. “So I don’t have to worry about her.”
“What about the other girl?”
Dosa-Mina didn’t respond.
“If you can get over it, then that’s good and that’s what we want. But just know this, Dosa-Mina. If it gets bad enough, we are willing to pull you out of Malicerie. We’ve done it before, and we can do it again.”
“Whatever works for you. We just want to see you happy again.”
Dosa-Mina sighed. ‘And yet it’s your fault I’m not right now.’ He couldn’t bring himself to say that to his parents, however. So instead, he finished his steak and head off for school.

Dosa-Mina sighed.
‘I’m worrying everyone around me. And that’s only making everything worse! I don’t want to feel this way either. I’d rather everything go back to normal! But how am I supposed to!? Nothing’s been making me happy. And if I can’t cheer up, the people around me won’t, either. And the longer they keep worrying about me, the worse it makes everything! Am I really going to overcome this?’
He sighed. ‘Other people have actual problems, but mine is just oh wow, I had to be an oversensitive baby about the way I look. Amazing…’
He was snapped out of his thoughts when something smacked him in the face. San-Kyung turned around abruptly, looking startled.
“Oh…looks like your tail grew in, huh?” He said, trying to force a smile.
“Yeah, just this morning. It’s nice to have it back.” He wiggled it slightly. “I think I’ll probably be able to levitate again soon as well. I was able to stay off the ground for a while today.”
“That’s good! It looks like everything’s happening a little earlier than it did last year, too. Maybe you’ll be in your true form on October thirtieth instead of Halloween!”
“That’s wishful thinking.”
“Heh, nothing wrong with that.”
‘Maybe I should try taking that advice too,’ he thought. ‘Maybe something else will cheer up San-Kyung and my parents. And then I’ll be able to take part in that cheer, too. I can only hope…’
He started to feel that wouldn’t be the case when he noticed the expression on San-Kyung’s face become somber.
“Is something wrong?”
“Not anything that wasn’t wrong the last time we talked.”
“Oh…”
“Don’t worry about it, Dosa-Mina. And don’t bother trying to do anything about it either. It’s not a problem you can fix.”
“How do you know?”
“If there’s a fix, it’s probably more impossible than getting my true form permanently. So don’t bother.”
Dosa-Mina grit his teeth. ‘Of course. Even if something else could cheer up San-Kyung and my parents, there’s still me. Every time I talk to them, they’ll just be reminded of this stupid incident. There’s no out of that, is there?’
Dosa-Mina gasped.
‘Unless…’
“Something up?”
“Go ahead of me, San-Kyung. I just remembered something I have to do.”
“What?”
“Just go ahead. I’ll catch up with you!”
Dosa-Mina ran in the direction opposite of him. He kept running until he was certain San-Kyung wouldn’t be able to follow him anymore.
Then, he started to sing.

***

“Ooh, it looks like rival-boy isn’t sitting here today.”
“Don’t take that as an invitation,” San-Kyung spat.
“Malicerie doesn’t care what seat you sit in. And even if they did, it doesn’t matter ’cause it’s fun to break the rules. Fer-Shi’s kind of mad at me today anyway.”
“You know, I wouldn’t be if you’d just say that was uncalled for!” Fer-Shi snapped.
“Never. For you see, Fer-Shi, I have more power than you. Why should I have to say it was uncalled for?”
“Because! There’s no reason you should have done that! It’s not like you were crazy from a blood craving! Veiner might have forgiven you, but I haven’t!”
“And that’s how I like it, so why will I say it was uncalled for now?”
“Oh come on!”
“Damn it, why isn’t he here yet?” San-Kyung was starting to feel as though he had made a mistake leaving Dosa-Mina to go off on his own. He twitched in his seat, wondering if he should go back and look for him.
And just then, someone entered the classroom.
Almost all the students turned to see the boy standing at the entrance to the classroom. He was half-covered in fur, with a single pointed ear on his head and one wing.
He was smiling, but those in the front noticed he looked immensely uncomfortable.
“H-hello, San-Kyung,” he said. “Sorry it took me so long to get here. I had to do something first.”
Chatter rose among the students as he took his seat next to San-Kyung, nearly all of it centered around his true form.
“Damn it!”
“Wow…so that’s what Dosa-Mina really looks like.”
“Pretty rude to stare, isn’t it, goody-goody?” La-Iin sneered.
“Oh–! You know what, let’s just get back to our seats!”
As the two girls stomped back to their seats, San-Kyung whispered to Dosa-Mina,
“What are you doing!?”
“Well, everyone knows now, don’t they? Why not start to try and accept myself? Why? Would you rather I just keep hiding my true form? That’s contrary to what you’ve said to me in the past, you know.”
“But I thought–”
“That I still wanted to try and hide it anyway? There’s no point, San-Kyung. And who knows? Maybe this is good for me! If I start coming to school in my true form, maybe I can accept myself for sure. It’d be nice.”
Dosa-Mina sounded genuinely happy, but San-Kyung couldn’t help but feel uncomfortable. Something about his friend’s smile seemed off.
When Mr. Chensu walked into the room, he took a deep breath, but before he could yell, his eyes rested on Dosa-Mina.
“Mr. Dslellular?”
“Hi, Mr. Chensu. I’m sure you’ve heard the news about my species?”
“I–I did, but I didn’t expect you to start coming here like that.”
“Well, I am! So don’t go mistaking me for someone else now, okay?”
“I don’t think I could,” he mumbled. With one last wary glance in Dosa-Mina’s direction, he started the history lesson for the day.

Throughout classes that day, students and teachers were greatly confused by Dosa-Mina’s appearance–or in La-Iin’s case, why he had decided to come to school that way.
San-Kyung had a different subject on his mind, however. Dosa-Mina seemed incredibly happy all throughout the day, except when Airy-Aekok had approached him to get a closer look. It seemed abnormal, especially since right before they had come to school Dosa-Mina’s mood had seemed much the same as it had been recently.
‘But then he was still in his Normal form…’
Was it possible that doing this was what Dosa-Mina really wanted? Would it make him happier?
San-Kyung could only wonder.

As the classes came to a close, Dosa-Mina started to put away his supplies.
“Rival-boy.”
La-Iin had walked over to his desk.
“Huh? Whatcha want, La-Iin?”
“Why are you coming here in that form?”
“Because I’m going to make a change. Dslellular Dosa-Mina is a Werewolf-Siren. The sooner I can be happier this way, the sooner my life will make an improvement.”
“Hm.”
“Why? Is something wrong with me trying to accept myself? I guess that’s just because you prefer to see me unhappy, isn’t it?” He ruffled her hair. “You little sadist!”
“You’re getting on my nerves.”
“Says the girl who’s been zipping out the classroom at high speed the last few school days. I’ve been meaning to ask you about that, speaking of.”
“Hey, Dslellular!”
Dosa-Mina turned to see who was calling him. Xhen-Bei was staring at him, a curious expression on his face.
“What is it, Yuuldang?”
“So you’re half-Werewolf, just like me!” He said. “Or, well, I’m a Pureblood, but still!”
“Yup.”
He folded his ears to his head. “Sorry, I don’t mean to stare. I’ve just never seen anyone with your kind of appearance before.”
“The one wing must look pretty weird,” Dosa-Mina chuckled.
“No, it wasn’t really that. I’ve just never seen a half-and-half Dualbreed before. Sorry, that was probably pretty rude of me to say. It’s just, I didn’t expect that.”
Dosa-Mina continued to smile, but his expression became warped, as if something was wrong. He began to chuckle.
“Yeah, not many Dualbreeds are half-and-half, are they? I guess you could say I’m a weirdo in that regard! Ha ha!”
Dosa-Mina began to cry.
“Dslellular!?”
“Aha, i–it’s nothing, Yuuldang,” he said. “I–I need to go home now. My parents will be really worried if I stay out too long! See you all tomorrow!”
He rushed out the classroom. San-Kyung followed after him. Once again, the classroom burst out into conversation about Dosa-Mina.

—–
“Are you alright?”
“I–I will be. I just didn’t expect to start crying.”
Dosa-Mina breathed. “I really thought it would be a liberating experience. And it was, at first…but I just can’t seem to get over that stupid half-and-half part.”
He shook his head. “But I’ll get better. I’m gonna try, for my sake, and for yours, too. I just don’t know what way I’ll get better yet.”

La-Iin gave a frustrated huff.
‘Rival-boy can never make things easy for me, can he…’

3.641.Truth of the Matter

The La-Iin Series
Chapter 641
“Truth of the Matter”

“Mr. and Mrs. Molshei. I’m so glad you two actually came.”
“Of course we did! You said it had to do with San-Kyung.” Del-Kyuus said.
San-Kyung glared. The woman who had summoned his mother and father was the Principal of his school. He knew for a fact that she didn’t like him, and he felt likewise. The kind smile she put on around the other children was gone around him.
“Yes, it does. I’m sure the little hellion understands why you have been summoned here as well.”
“Why? Did San-Kyung do something wrong? We know he’s a little antisocial, but I can’t imagine him hurting anyone. We’ve raised him not to.”
“San-Kyung would probably be considered a model student if it weren’t for his attitude,” the Principal hissed. “Certainly, he has better grades than the rest of the mindless morons who come to this school.”
“How could you say that about children!?” Del-Kyuus sounded dumbfounded.
“But if you were to see the utter lack of respect he has for other people, his classmates, teachers and the faculty of our school, I am certain you’d be treating him just as I am now. With this sort of lack of respect I wouldn’t be surprised if he grows up to become a serial killer.”
Salsh-Era looked furious.
“Teach this child to act better! In kindergarten it’s one thing for a child to be a hellion. Once he’s in Elementary, I take it as a sign that terror is in his future! So you’d best do what can be done now before it gets out of hand.”

“I can’t believe that Principal! Saying such things about San-Kyung!”
“Yeah, what a crook! Maybe we should say something about her. I don’t want San-Kyung to be miserable at Muer Elementary. He just started here!”
He glanced down at his son. “San-Kyung, are you okay? I’m sorry that Principal said those things about you.”
“I don’t care. I knew she was a jerk. She’s just like all people.”
Salsh-Era and Del-Kyuus gave each other worried looks. “She only shows me what I already knew. So I don’t care. I don’t like the other kids, but she’s definitely the worst. They’re just stupid. She thinks I’m a soshyo…so…um….she thinks I’m one of those people but I think she would be a serial killer before me.”
“Well, she definitely has worse morals than you, that’s for sure,” Salsh-Era said. “Talking that way about a little kid. Where does that get her?”
San-Kyung huffed and walked a short distance ahead of his parents. Once he did, Del-Kyuus drew closer to Salsh-Era.
“I’m still worried about San-Kyung,” Del-Kyuus said. “I don’t understand why he hates other people so much. I don’t think he’d become a serial killer or anything wicked like that crook of a Principal said, but why hasn’t he opened up to anyone else yet?”
“I don’t know, but people like her are just going to make him a misanthropist. There has to be something we can do. I just wish I knew when this all started. It’d make things a lot easier, that’s for sure…”

***

“San-Kyung, would you like to go to the park?”
“Park?”
“It’s a place where there are a lot of fun fixtures to play on,” Salsh-Era said. “We’ll show you! The park is just up ahead.”
The two started to levitate, San-Kyung in tow, over to the park. They landed and began to show him around the fixtures.
“This you can climb on!”
“And over here, this is a slide! Let me show you how to use it!”
San-Kyung was a little overwhelmed by all the information they were giving him at once, especially since they both seemed to want to gravitate him towards a different fixture. But it was fun nonetheless, especially when they levitated him.
After a while they stopped and sat down on a nearby bench.
“You were right, Kyuusie. Day travel can be pretty fun.”
“See? And we didn’t even need to use a car. We have our feet and our levitation!”
Del-Kyuus reached for her bag and pulled out some drinks. “I can’t believe San-Kyung’s going to start kindergarten soon,” Del-Kyuus sighed. “Where does the time go?”
“By too fast,” Salsh-Era said, a chuckle in his tone.
The Molsheis were not the only family at the park that day. Other people had come to play with their children, and some parents sat down on benches just as they did. One such parent was an Animated Pumpkin.
“Ah, it’s so nice to see other Animated Pumpkins,” she said. “It feels like Bledger is sorely lacking in them.”
“There are plenty of other Animated Pumpkins if you just look around,” Del-Kyuus said, hoping that she was right and the comment was directed to her and her husband.
“And species isn’t everything!” Salsh-Era said.
“Hm.” The woman didn’t seem to agree, but she didn’t talk again–at least, not until her eyes fell on San-Kyung.
“It’s all gone.”
“Alright, then. Wow, you must have been thirsty! There was a lot in there!”
“Your child’s Aesthetically Normal?”
Salsh-Era and Del-Kyuus turned her way. “Yes…?”
“But why? Don’t you know the prime time for mating?”
“Hey, you can’t ask those sorts of things!” Salsh-Era said, sounding flustered. Beside him, Del-Kyuus squeaked “It’s none of your business!”
“No wonder you don’t think species matters,” she sighed. “You didn’t even care enough to let your child be born a normal Animated Pumpkin.”
“That has nothing to do with this,” Salsh-Era said. “And even if you get pregnant at the right time, there’s no guarantee your baby will be born on time. So please, let’s not talk about this anymore. …and by the way, I only said species isn’t everything.”
“I wouldn’t be surprised if he grows to resent you,” she huffed. “I’ve read up on what happens to Aesthetically Normals in November. Animated Pumpkins just aren’t meant to be Aesthetically Normal. It’s a birth defect in my eyes.” And with that statement, the woman walked over to another bench further away from the three.
“What a rude woman!” Del-Kyuus huffed.
“No kidding. She didn’t have to be so mean…San-Kyung, you don’t resent us for you being Aesthetically Normal, right?”
“Resent?”
Salsh-Era sighed. “We’ll talk to you about it later. Let’s just try and enjoy the rest of the day for now, okay?”

“Mom, Dad?”
“Yes, San-Kyung?” Del-Kyuus said.
“If you have something to say, can you make it quick? I’ve got to get to work soon!”
San-Kyung nodded. “Did you say people are suppose to be nice?”
“That’s what we believe!” Del-Kyuus said. “People should all try to be nice to other people.”
“Hm. Well, why didn’t that lady who was our same species be nice to us?”
“You still remember her?” Salsh-Era said. “Well, San-Kyung, people are supposed to be nice, but that doesn’t stop some people.”
“Yes. Some people just won’t be nice no matter how hard you try. But some have it in them to change, so that’s why you should be nice to people yourself.”
“Hmph!”
“Is something wrong?”
“Nothing. I’m gonna go play now.”
“Alright! If you want, I can join you!”
His parent’s words had San-Kyung thinking. The Animated Pumpkin woman had seemed nice, at least until she saw him. Was it possible other people were like that, that they would seem nice at first but then start acting that way?
How could he tell the difference between people who were genuine and people who weren’t?

“San-Kyung, don’t you want to play with any of the other kids?”
“No.”
“Why not?”
“I just don’t.”
“I really can’t tell if he’s just shy or if he’s antisocial,” Del-Kyuus said. “But why does he act like this?”
“He’s been resistent to people ever since he was a baby. Maybe he has some sort of early-onset social anxiety. …well, I’m no doctor. Maybe we should talk to someone about him.”
“He should make some friends of his own. He can’t rely on us forever.”
San-Kyung shot a glance at the children playing. He was new to Shadiruck Kindergarten. The faculty at Shadiruck had, apparently, become concerned about him because of his resistance to the other children and adults.
“Children do this sometimes,” one of the faculty had explained to Salsh-Era and Del-Kyuus. “They’re used to being around their parents and being taken away from them makes them upset. Usually it clears up soon enough, but we’re a little concerned that San-Kyung might be slightly dependent on you two. So what we want to do is have you two come here and watch him. First come here for the whole Kindergarten day, then leave after some time, increasing how long you’re gone gradually. Hopefully this will get him used to you being gone and he’ll open up to the other people here.”
“I have work, though,” Salsh-Era had told them.
“I can watch him. And aren’t they giving you Wednesdays and Thursdays off?”
“I guess that’s true. Though I’d really love it if they moved me back to the Weekends-off schedule,” he sighed. “So I can only come certain days.”
Since then his parents had started staying with him at Shadiruck. Most of the time it was only Del-Kyuus, but as today was a Thursday, Salsh-Era was there too, and they watched him during play-time.
‘They don’t get it,’ he thought. ‘I don’t like the other kids!’
It wasn’t just a matter of him being nervous about whether or not they would be nice to him. He genuinely didn’t care for the other children and the way they acted. They annoyed him, and it didn’t seem like it mattered much to them that he kept away from them, anyway. They seemed perfectly happy to play without him, and that only convinced him more.
“After all these weeks and he’s still not opening up to the other kids,” Salsh-Era said.
“Pardon my intrusion, but…”
Salsh-Era, Del-Kyuus and San-Kyung turned around. A Snowliv woman had approached them.
“Something about your son has been bothering me. Namely, his behavior…”
“We’re sorry about that. We really don’t know why San-Kyung doesn’t like playing with the other children.”
“But we’re not going to force him,” Salsh-Era said. “Forced kindness can hurt a lot more than harsh words.”
San-Kyung blinked.
“I see.” The woman’s gaze suddenly became cold. “Well, I understand that children are individuals, but I also understand that parents play a big role in the shaping of their children. And parents don’t always make the right choices.”
“What are you saying?”
“I highly doubt little San-Kyung’s resistance to playing with other children has anything to do with his nature,” she said, her tone cool. “Giving your child love is fine and all. Of course a child should be given love by his parents, otherwise he ends up deranged. But smothering him isn’t good either. And he should have exposure to other people. Haven’t you let him meet his relatives?”
“We did, although we haven’t let him talk to one of them recently,” Salsh-Era admitted. “One of his distant relatives is a little iffy about him being Aesthetically Normal.”
Noticing the chilly gaze in the Snowliv woman’s eyes, San-Kyung opened the small door to the playground, closed it and stood behind his father.
“That reminds me. Aesthetically Normals. There’s nothing wrong with them. No species should be discriminated against, but you should understand statistics.”
“Huh?”
“Aesthetically Normals do not have a natural body set-up for handling the October power surge. As such, their body changes approximately on Halloween. The change can affect the brain as well. It’s a lot of power for someone who doesn’t usually have it to acquire, and it can mess with the mind. The effect can be profound on a child his age, so they need to be watched closely. …if you want me to be blunt, I don’t think you two are very good parents.”
“Why not?”
“A child cannot subsist on love alone! If you truly love your child, you’ll prepare him for the path he’s meant to take instead of just smothering him with love. And Aesthetically Normals aren’t often the product of an early or late baby. I’ve looked at his files. His birthday is not in September nor November. This was solely you either wanting a baby that badly or being so lustful as to not consider what you might bring into the world.”
“I–”
“Shut up!”
San-Kyung was so furious that he had bit down onto his hand to keep himself from screaming at the woman, but he just couldn’t hold himself back anymore. His hand alight, he approached the woman, who began to scream.
“F-fire! Get it away from me!”
San-Kyung smirked. He continued to walk closer to her until she ran into the building. Once she was gone, Salsh-Era picked him up.
“San-Kyung!! You can’t threaten people like that! I can’t believe this. Your first time using your hand fire, and it’s for something like that…”
Salsh-Era sounded choked up. San-Kyung began to hit at the fire to try and get it to go out.
“San-Kyung, what you did was wrong!”
“And what that woman said was wrong,” Salsh-Era said. “We don’t just smother him. I know we don’t…”
“Let’s not worry about that for now, Salsh-Era,” Del-Kyuus said. “We can bring it up with Shadiruck later.”
“Yeah…”
San-Kyung grit his teeth. That woman was more proof than he’d ever need. Watching people, he had already assumed that his feelings of hatred towards them were perfectly reasonable.
Now, he had proof that was the case.

***

“San-Kyung, what are you looking at?”
“A libary book,” he said. “When me and Mom were out, we heard a guy talking about Hell. I wanted to know more about it.”
“Why?”
“Just ’cause.”
“Well, I never believed in Hell, personally, but you’re welcome to look into it. But do you mind if I read with you? You know, just in case. Some things in there might be too mature for you.”
San-Kyung shrugged. He let Salsh-Era join him, and together the two continued to read the Cathien book.

—–
“I have something to say.”
“Yes, San-Kyung?”
“I know you two are good, and you want me to be good, too. But I just can’t do that!”
“H…huh? What do you mean, San-Kyung?”
“People and the world mean nothing to me. Except for you two. And if hating all that makes me evil, then that’s what I am. I’m not going to be a two-faced jerk like everyone else. I’m just going to be evil!”
His parents looked dumbfounded; Del-Kyuus was making confused squeaks as if she couldn’t believe what she had heard. But San-Kyung felt satisfied.
Through this, he was better than other people in one way.

28.636.And We Run Again

The La-Iin Series
Chapter 636
“And We Run Again”

“Hey, look, it’s Dslellular!”
La-Iin turned around. To her surprise, her classmates were right. Dosa-Mina was walking along the path to school with his head bowed. When San-Kyung noticed him, he ran to his side and said something to him that La-Iin couldn’t make out.
“I’m glad he’s not sick anymore,” Fer-Shi said. “But I wonder if he’ll be okay?”
‘I bet being sick was just a lie,’ La-Iin thought. ‘Maybe I should try that sometime. Or I would if I could get around Mama…’
As San-Kyung and Dosa-Mina walked past La-Iin, she overheard what they were talking about.
“The 28th Running Event is today. They told us about it on Friday. I would have told you about it then, but there was a lot happening that day.”
“I understand. It doesn’t really matter anyway. I don’t think I can do it.” Glancing at the other students, he added, “I don’t think I’ve completely gotten over that fever.”
“I’m just telling you.”
“The 28th Running Event is today?” Fer-Shi said.
“They said that on Friday. Were you not paying attention?”
Fer-Shi blushed. “I might have been half asleep…”
The students head for the back of the building. They were surprised to see a slightly more elaborate set up than in prior years. Most of the faculty was back there, setting things up and chatting among each other.
“Heyyy, students! Looks like you all got here at the same time! I’m surprised to see you, Class A. I thought the event was offensive because you need to run.”
“It still is,” a Class A student said. “But I happened to overhear about the special prize.”
“Oh…that…ahaha….” Sharai began to sweat.
“What’s the special prize?” Rini-Futo asked.
“You want to know? Well, the prizes we’ve given out the last years have always been something the top winners could decide, but they’ve always been simple objects, little prizes like chocolate and paper, but we thought we’d make it a little special this year. So this year, the first place winner of the 28th Running Event gets to pick something of their own decision. Nothing unreasonable is allowed, although I’m sure Class A is looking for a loophole…”
“I heard that!”
“Heh heh.”
“What about the other places?”
“They still have to pick simple items. It’d be too complicated and not very special if the other places could pick anything too, wouldn’t it?”
“You get to pick anything as a prize!?” La-Iin gasped.
“Wow, that sounds really cool! I bet I wouldn’t be able to win that, though. I’ve never won the running event.”
‘Think of what I could demand of them! That idiot Sharai mentioned something about loopholes. I wonder if there’s something I can use there!’
“Last year Lirako won the event…” Dosa-Mina sighed.
“Yeah, that’s right…”
“I really don’t have it in me to do it this year, San-Kyung.”
“Tell them that, then. But don’t worry. The event’s in September this year. So that means I have some extra strength to use. And I know just what I would ask for if I do manage to win…”
“The students certainly seem excited by your prize, Mr. Sharai,” the Principal said.
“What can I say? It’s a good prize. I can already imagine what I would ask for. Let’s just hope that Class A is as out of shape as the nurses make them sound so we don’t have to add all sorts of bathrooms!”
“I HEARD THAT!”
“No seriously, we’re screwed if they win.”
“I’m aware. But I don’t think it will be much of a problem. After all, your only rule was that the prize couldn’t be unreasonable. And really, what’s unreasonable is our determination, isn’t it?”
“Yeah, it is!”
The students began to prepare for the race.
‘Think of all the prizes I could win!’ La-Iin thought. ‘It would be amazing. But then, first I have to win the race! Maybe there’s a way I can assist myself.’
She spotted Shuera-Kaizima dressing into exercise clothes nearby. Desperate, she bit down into her arm and sucked a small amount of her blood, only as much as she could before Shuera-Kaizima noticed her. After she had finished, she ran up to Ai-Reia and smeared blood on her teeth.
“What the–!?”
“Who did that!?” Shuera-Kaizima asked, scanning the area frantically. “Someone sucked my blood!”
“I’m pretty sure La-Iin did!” Ai-Reia said. Shuera-Kaizima stared at her blood-stained teeth.
“Are you certain you’re not getting blood cravings, Ai-Reia?”
“I’m not! Listen, Kokohara, La-Iin just…”
La-Iin started to stretch. When she spotted San-Kyung doing the same, she ran to his side.
“So rival-boy’s not running?”
“No.”
“Good. We all know the prize he’d want would be a kiss from you or something.”
“He takes those if he wants to. Why would he need to ask for it as a prize?”
“Who knows?”
“I know. But he’s not racing.”
“Why not?”
“He was just sick.”
“He was sick earlier this month. I never get sick that close together. In fact, I haven’t been sick once this year! …I think.”
San-Kyung sighed. Then, he stopped stretching and glared at La-Iin.
“What do you mean, he was sick earlier this month? How would you know that?”
“Um…”
“Alright, students, the race is about to start!”
“You obviously have something you need to confess.”
“Now what kind of evil person would I be if I confessed about my evil deeds?”
San-Kyung sighed. “Well, at least I know I won’t have to worry about fighting you for ruling the world.”
“What!?”
La-Iin had wanted to continue the banter, but the race started almost immediately afterwards, and she was determined to win the race no matter what.
She propelled herself forward with her wings, gaining a quick burst of speed and passing many other students, including San-Kyung and Lirako. She felt confident, and not long after it felt as though something within her had changed. As if she had more stamina, more ability to move faster. She continued to press on, quickly outpacing the others.
“Since when was La-Iin so fast?” Dosa-Mina said.
“It does seem odd,” said Wei-Men. He was checking Dosa-Mina over. “You seem to have made a full recovery. I’m glad.”
“…”
‘But what to do about his mental state?’ Wei-Men wondered.
La-Iin continued on at top speed, but some other students began to catch up with her, namely Catori students–though La-Iin didn’t notice Shuera-Kaizima among them–avian students, and San-Kyung. San-Kyung glared down at her, then started to run ahead of her. La-Iin broke into a faster run.
Even with San-Kyung keeping pace with her, La-Iin felt confident that she could still win, even if just by a hair. The sudden burst of stamina in her legs kept her going, and the flapping of her wings propelled her forward nicely. She could see the end of the course up ahead.
“This is an outrage!” She heard Class A students yell from a distance. She chuckled to herself; when she did, she spotted Xhen-Bei, who had gained on them.
“You’re not the only two who can go really fast!” He panted. He started to keep pace with San-Kyung, and both boys overtook La-Iin.
“Not fair!”
The end of the course was steadily approaching, and with it La-Iin’s determination was increasing. She didn’t feel fatigued, but her legs were throbbing and sending her slightly off-balance. With flashes of all the things she wanted going through her head, she decided to give it her all and go for one last burst of speed.
“And the winner of the 28th Running Event is…”
La-Iin took a deep breath and collapsed.
“MOLSHEI SAN-KYUNG!”
San-Kyung gasped. La-Iin looked up at him. He looked genuinely surprised.
“Damn, I really thought I got it there. Good jo–ah, er…never mind…” Xhen-Bei backed away from San-Kyung.
“So, Mr. Molshei! As the winner of the 28th Running Event, what do you want as your prize?” Sharai asked. The faculty crowded around him–and soon too did the students who had finished the race. San-Kyung looked uncomfortable, that and angry.
“Expel Sanyaow Lirako.”
“Ah…ahaha…sorry, Mr. Molshei, but we can’t do that,” Sharai said. “Limitations, you know?”
San-Kyung huffed. “Fine then. …”
“…”
“Well!?”
“Allow me to….no….” His gaze went past the students. “Sanyaow Lirako is not allowed to have contact with Dosa-Mina until he says so. I don’t care how you enforce this. This is what I want.”
“Huh? Why?”
“Anyone in the school could tell you she’s been harassing him lately.” San-Kyung said, his tone scathing.
Sharai seemed slightly confused, but he gave a shrug and said, “Well, I guess we can give you that…it’s kind of inconvenient, but it is reasonable, especially if what you say is the truth. Well, then! Sorry, Miss Sanyaow, but looks like you’re going to have to keep your distance from Mr. Dslellular!”
“I’d say myself too but I bet you’re sticking to a stupid ‘one prize’ rule,” he hissed.
“San-Kyung won…” La-Iin smiled. “It’s a disappointment, but at least I’m in third place!”
“Actually, you’re in nothing place,” Sharai said.
“What!?”
“We heard you sucked Miss Kokohara’s blood and used her speed to make it as far as you did. Voluntary use of powers is against the rules.”
La-Iin began to shake. Then she let out a wild scream. The students and faculty members flinched.

—–
“I hate that stupid 28th Running Event!”
“Aw, it’s just for fun. And it is good exercise. But you really shouldn’t have sucked Kokohara’s blood. Then you could have gotten a cool piece of chocolate!”
“I wouldn’t have made it that far without that stupid blood,” she grumbled. “Oh, but they’ll see. Come 2016, the 28th Running Event will be no more…”
“What makes you say that?”
La-Iin flinched. “Just a hunch.”
‘But if it’s up to me, I’ll make it a certainty!’

22.630.The Reveal

The La-Iin Series
Chapter 630
“The Reveal”

‘Shit shit shit!’
Lirako had arrived at school late that day. After a health emergency at home–which turned out to be a false alarm–getting to school was the last thing on her mind. But if she was not going to the hospital, there was no excuse to not be going to school, and now that she was in Grade 12 she didn’t plan on missing school.
When she arrived in Class D, all the other students were already there, including Deki-Tyunri, who she took her seat next to. She was quick to notice that his head was bowed.
“Yo, Deks, what’s wrong?”
“No…nothing,” he sighed.
“How long do you think I’ve known you? I know something’s wrong. Tell me what’s up! Were you lonely for me?”
“I was…but…that’s not the problem.”
“So there is something wrong.”
Deki-Tyunri sighed once more. “It’s a ridiculous problem, though.”
“What’s wrong?”
“…” He glanced at San-Kyung. “…I just wish I could get over Molshei already, that’s all. I know it will never happen. He hates everyone who’s not Dslellular. I don’t even know if he loves his own parents. I don’t know how Dslellular got into his heart, but I really doubt I have what he does. We’re far too different in personality. And he’s neutral, isn’t he?”
“How am I supposed to know?”
“I thought you would since you bother him often. But neutral is probably better to someone who’s evil than good is. And since our morals don’t align, even if I did get what I want, would it even matter? They say couples with differing morals have a lot of problems.”
Deki-Tyunri looked genuinely upset. Seeing his expression broke her heart.
‘But what could I do to help him there? I’ve gone up to San-Kyung before. He’s rough stuff. I don’t know how Dslellular puts up with him. …but then, I don’t know how he puts up with Dslellular, either.’
Just as she was about to let out a sigh of her own, an idea popped into her head. ‘Or maybe there’s a little something I can do to nudge them in the right direction…’

***

Lirako waited until the break time before Science class to enact her plan. She could remember La-Iin intervening in a past altercation she had had with both him and Dosa-Mina, and considering that her plan dealt with trying to get San-Kyung to take romantic interest in someone, she had a feeling it was the best course of action.
So once La-Iin left the classroom, she walked over to San-Kyung.
“Yo.”
San-Kyung glared at her. To Lirako, the glare looked far more malicious than usual.
“Don’t talk to me, Catori. It’s September. It might not be October yet, but you’ll still regret speaking to me.”
“C’mon.” She sat on his desk. “Besides, it’s not me I want to talk about. It’s someone else.”
Lirako noticed that Dosa-Mina was also glaring at her, but his expression seemed uncertain as opposed to San-Kyung’s.
“You know my friend, Elyshen Deki-Tyunri?”
“I don’t care.”
“Lirako…!” Deki-Tyunri’s wings had started to unfold. Lirako winked at Deki-Tyunri, but he still looked flustered and upset.
“Don’t just shut me down. Look, he’s a nice kid. I think you and him could probably be good friends if you’d open up.”
“No.”
Lirako sighed. “Yet you’ll be friends with Dslellular?”
“My life is none of your business. Now back off unless you want to be someone’s meal.”
“I kind of don’t want to. But I’m not going to back off either.” She hopped off the desk and put her face close to San-Kyung’s.
“You know I know, right?”
“Know what?”
“Dosa-Mina’s species.”
San-Kyung’s eyes twitched. Lirako could tell that he was trying to hold a straight face.
“Everyone does.”
“Really? I thought it was a well-kept secret.”
“He’s very blatantly a Normal.”
“Trying to cover for him, eh?”
“Catori, I think I know what you’re getting at. Cut it out. I’m more than willing to lie to you and I’m telling you the truth here. So back off.”
“How am I supposed to believe you, then?”
“San-Kyung, please!” Dosa-Mina said.
San-Kyung glanced at him. “Just get away from me.”
“Oh, alright. If you’re so certain that Dosa-Mina is a Normal, I guess I’ll just tell the class what I suspect, then.”
Students nearby started to turn in their direction. Dosa-Mina’s eyes widened.
“San-Kyung–!”
San-Kyung grit his teeth. He seemed to be having a crisis.
Lirako was more than ready to continue on with her current line, until she caught sight of Deki-Tyunri out the corner of her eye. He was obviously quite upset.
‘Damn, if Deki-Tyunri finds out I’m trying to blackmail San-Kyung into liking him, he’ll probably be furious with me.’ Lirako’s ears flattened to her head. ‘I’d love to see them squirm more, but I think I’ll have to let it go.’
“Ah, well, it’s just a rumor anyway. Stirring up class would be a little more fun if everyone was here. Don’t worry, I won’t say anything.”
Finally.” San-Kyung sounded genuinely relieved.
Lirako turned to head back to her seat. She could already see that Deki-Tyunri was obviously less than pleased by what she had done. ‘That was a mistake. I should’ve known it’d make him mad…’
“…I should have known that bitch wouldn’t leave me alone…”
It was said so quietly, obviously intended for only one person to hear–but Lirako had picked up on it quite easily.
And she was pissed.
She turned around, stared down Dosa-Mina, and yelled at the top of her lungs,
“Says you, Weresiren!!
Dosa-Mina gaped. San-Kyung arguably looked even more surprised than he did.
“Weresiren?” Xhen-Bei said.
“Weresiren?” Zae-Mia said.
“As in, a Werewolf-Siren?” Ai-Reia asked. “Sanyaow, what are you doing calling him that for?”
“This guy always had us believing he was a Normal. But the truth is, what I called him is what he is. If you don’t believe me, you’re always welcome to go and talk to his parents about it.”
“How do you know that for sure?” Xhen-Bei sounded as if he didn’t believe her. “I mean, like, did he tell you or something?”
“I have irrefutable proof. And their expressions should say more than I ever could.”
Dosa-Mina covered his mouth and San-Kyung began to try and look stoic.
“So? What say you, students of Class D? Feel free to ask him to jump as high as he can or sing for you. I can assure you he’ll do neither.”
“But…how can that be? Wouldn’t we know if he was a Werewolf-Siren?” Zae-Mia said.
“Yeah! And why would he hide something like that?” Fer-Shi asked.
“Unless he’s like Dereni and he wants to cannibalize us,” Shan-Zetsu said, his expression one of fury.
“Well, Dosa-Mina? What do you have to say for yourself?”
“I…I’m a Normal…she’s just lying because I wouldn’t sing for her.”
“Does choking really help your situation?”
“Lirako!” Deki-Tyunri exclaimed. “Normal or Werewolf-Siren, why are you bothering him?”
“Because this jerk and I had a promise. I’d keep his secret in exchange for him not badmouthing me. And I don’t know if you heard it, but we Catoris can pick up on things even like whispered bitches. If you want proof, ask Llanni.”
Students turned to see Airy-Aekok.
“U-uh, um…like, I guess I could show you proof, yeah…”
“But are we sure that it’s concrete proof? Sanyaow and Llanni’s claims alone cannot just make us believe that that is the truth. Refusing to sing is suspicious, but there is nothing in his appearance that indicates he is anything other than Normal.”
“Have you ever heard of the Dereni brothers, Vampiris?” Cae-Bougen asked. “The younger brother attends this school right now, disguised as a Normal. I don’t know if I believe this claim, but it’s certainly possible…”
“Well, I know that, but–”
“Stop.”
The students turned to Dosa-Mina.
Dosa-Mina had had enough of their debating by now. He already knew there was no getting out of this one. It was a fight that had been lost the moment Lirako found out. Inevitably something was going to happen. A school event or something of the such. He could already imagine, his mother arriving disguised as a Normal, his father wearing several cloaks–and Lirako pulling off those cloaks, or another curious student reaching under them and feeling fur.
Even if Airy-Aekok was bluffing and she didn’t have any proof, sooner or later they would find out, and if he kept retaliating at this point, they were going to be even more curious when the truth came out. He was so close to leaving school without it ever being found out.
But that was just a dead pipe dream now.
“…Lirako, I understand our deal, but when I said that I wasn’t talking to you.”
“So? I heard it anyway.”
“Dslellular, does this mean that Sanyaow’s words are true? Are you a Werewolf-Siren?”
Dosa-Mina lowered his head. “I give up. I’m not going to deny it anymore. Sooner or later one of you is going to get too curious for your own good and go prying into my business. So there. Now you know. Now leave me alone.”
The classroom erupted into conversation instead. Dosa-Mina cringed.
“Why did you tell them!?” San-Kyung whispered.
“There’s no point in hiding it anymore, San-Kyung. It was a losing battle. I weighed my options and this was the situation with the more favorable outcome. Besides, if she really does have proof, I’m screwed either way.”
“Dosa-Mina…”
“There’s no out,” he said with a chuckle. “I’ve been on a downward spiral for a long while now. Everything’s going to come out about me. Soon enough there won’t be any secrets I can hide anymore.”
Tears rolled down his face. “Nothing…”

—–
“La-Iin, did you hear!?”
“Hear what?”
“Apparently, Dosa-Mina’s a Werewolf-Siren!”
La-Iin’s eyes widened. “How do you know that?”
“H-huh? You already knew?”
“Isn’t that obvious? But how do you know?”
“He just told the whole class!”
“Why would he do that?”
“I don’t know!”
La-Iin huffed. “Something seems off…”

19.627.Lovely Love Story–Part 3

The La-Iin Series
Chapter 627
“Lovely Love Story–Part 3”

“Congratulations, students of Mudorous High. We are so pleased to see you have made it this far. Go now and make your mark on the world as adults!”
Salsh-Era beamed. Once the cheering died down and the crowd erupted into chatter, he began to feel slightly self-conscious about still being up on stage, so he levitated down to meet a friend of his, Iegyu Li-An.
“Congratulations, Salsh-Era!” She called out. Salsh-Era smiled back at her, though he was quick to notice the Animated Pumpkin girl standing next to her.
“Thanks, Li-An. It went better than I expected it to!”
“I’m glad!”
“Oh, but, who is that next to you?”
“Me?” The Animated Pumpkin girl pointed at herself.
“Oh yeah, that’s right, I never introduced you two. This is Zahelahe Del-Kyuus, a friend of mine. See, you weren’t my only friend up there. Me and Hiduro are close too. Zahelahe here is also friends with Hiduro, and they used to go to the same school before he transferred here.”
“You must be Molshei Salsh-Era,” she said. “Are you and Hiduro friends too?”
“No, not really. I mean I guess we talk, but he’s more popular than me here. Everyone always wants his attention…” Salsh-Era began to feel indignant.
Li-An giggled. “Don’t feel bad, Salsh-Era.”

On their way back from the graduation ceremony, Del-Kyuus, Li-An and Hiduro talked about their futures–for the most part.
“I imagine that if I keep up the way I am now, I can be famous! Imagine what I could use fame to do!”
“Don’t let it all get to your head, Hiduro,” Li-An said. “Conceited folk make it nowhere in life.”
“What a lie! Have you seen all the conceited celebrities and politicians!?”
Li-An sighed. “Touche.”
“Li-An, that Molshei boy was really nice. Do you think you could put us in touch?”
“Huh? You wanna make friends with Molshei?”
“Yes! He reminds me of a boy I knew in Elementary School. He’s funny!”
“You aren’t feeling lovey-dovey towards him, are ya, Del-Kyuus? I thought you and I were gonna be together! I can see it now…’Hiduro Del-Kyuus’.”
“Geez, Hiduro, I told you, I don’t like you that way.”
Hiduro sighed. “For someone so demure you sure aren’t easy on a guy’s heart.”
“And I just want to be his friend. I have plenty of male friends and I don’t have crushes on them.”
“Well, your little squabble aside, sure I can put you in contact with him, Zahelahe. Though I’ll have to ask him if he’s quite as interested in being your friend.”
“Okay!”

“What? Zahelahe wants to be friends with me?”
Li-An nodded. “Apparently you remind her of someone she knew in Elementary School.”
“Really?”
“I can put you two in contact, but that’s only if you’re interested in pursuing a friendship with her.”
“Sure, why not? She seems like a really nice girl. Tell her we can meet up at the park and chat for a bit.”
“Sure, I’ll tell her.”

***

A few days later, Salsh-Era and Del-Kyuus made good on their promise to meet at the park.
“I’m sorry, it must seem pretty weird for me to ask you out of the blue to be friends with me.”
“It was kind of weird.”
“But you know, you really remind me of this boy I knew in Elementary. He was the nicest kid, and so funny! …but I heard he died in junior high.”
“What!?”
Del-Kyuus nodded. “I’m sorry, this is such a somber subject to get on…well, we fell out of touch around junior high. When I got to high school, that’s when I heard he had been dead for a few years. Apparently he was attacked and tried to make it to the hospital on his own, but he got hit by a car on the way there.”
“Yeesh.”
“Oh, but please don’t think I’m trying to replace him with you!” She said. “I just thought you were really funny and I like funny people. You remind me of him, but I don’t see you as him.”
“I see.”
“Soooo, what kind of plans do you have now that you’re out of high school? Aside from maybe college?”
“Well, I want to do the responsible thing and go to college, get a job, all that stuff, but I guess if I had to say specifics, I would like to go visiting species societies. I was born here, so I’ve always been curious as to how they work, especially Animated Pumpkin ones. I heard my Dad lives in one nowadays.”
“Only your Dad?”
“My parents are divorced. I live with my Mom and her partner. It’s a little complicated.”
“Oh, okay. Um, as for me, I want to do the same things, go to college and get a job. I’d really like to get married and have a family, but if I don’t find someone right for me, I think I’ll try and open a bakery!”
“A bakery?”
“Yes! Everyone thinks it’s weird that I like cooking so much even though I don’t have to eat. Well, maybe it’s weird, but I really like it!”
“Well, it’s not like we can’t.”
“Yeah! You know, it’s weird. I’ve always wanted to get married, but…you know Hiduro, right?”
“Yeah, he was my classmate.”
“He likes me, but I just can’t find it in me to like him back. He’s nice, but I don’t know…oops! I guess that was a little too much information,” she giggled. “It just feels so natural with you!”
“Feels the same to me. I don’t usually go around telling people my parents are divorced. Still, that reminds me, Hiduro was always talking about an ‘orange beauty’ to his friends. I could never figure out if he was talking about an Animated Pumpkin or a Witch, or maybe even a Catori…”
“Oh my!” Del-Kyuus looked embarrassed. “What else did Hiduro say?”
“Well, he’s kind of conceited, let me tell you that. I don’t think I think as positively of him as you do, heh heh.”
The two continued to talk on for long after that, the subject changing several times in the middle.

“So, how’d it go?”
“It was great!” Del-Kyuus said.
“She’s a nice girl, and so easy to talk to. I think we’ll be good friends,” Salsh-Era said.
Li-An felt ecstatic. ‘I’m glad I helped them find a new friend.’

***

Li-An cleared her throat.
“My dear best school friends, to celebrate our upcoming graduation from college, I’ve decided to give you all some presents. As we go into a more adult world, we are looking to see hardships and suffer the struggle that is not being able to see each other as often. And–”
“We understand,” Del-Kyuus said.
“Someone just wants the presents!”
“No, I was just saying–”
“It’s okay!” Li-An handed out the presents.
“Oh, thank you, Li-An!” Del-Kyuus said.
“This is so nice of you,” Salsh-Era said.
“Ooh, I approve.” Hiduro said.
“Thanks, you guys.”
“Look what she got me, Salsh-Era!”
“That’s a nice cooking set.”
“I’m so excited to use this!”
“Wow, you two sure have become close, huh?” Li-An said.
Del-Kyuus nodded.
“Hmph.”
“Something wrong, Hiduro?” Del-Kyuus asked.
“Del-Kyuus, look. You know how I feel about you, and I can’t help but admit I’m a little jealous about you two being so close. But that’s not my problem here.”
“Is there something wrong with me and Salsh-Era being friends?”
“I heard what you said! About how he reminds you of an old classmate. And I think I figured out who you’re talking about. Are you just using him to replace him?”
“No! You know this already!”
“Hiduro, you don’t have to be mean,” Li-An said.
“I’m not trying to. But replacing someone is not a good basis for a friendship. And seeing how fast Del-Kyuus wanted to be friends with Molshei, I just feel like that’s the whole reason why.”
“A-are you sure this isn’t just because you’re jealous!?” Del-Kyuus said.
“I’m sure.”
Del-Kyuus sighed. She bowed her head.
“Great going, Hiduro. This was supposed to be fun!”
“Sorry, but I had to say it. If I didn’t now, you said it yourself, we might not see each other often after this–who would?”

Del-Kyuus head home feeling dejected, clutching the cooking set from Li-An tightly.
“Del-Kyuus!”
Salsh-Era was running after her. “Oh. Salsh-Era.”
“Look, Del-Kyuus, I just wanted to tell you that I don’t believe that you were using me as a replacement. You told me as much early on, I remember this.”
“Thank you, Salsh-Era. But to tell the truth, Hiduro might be a little right. Not completely, but sometimes I’ve felt you ease the pain from his death. When we met it had only been a year since I had heard about it. I felt really guilty. But now, we’ve been friends for a while. You and he are really different.”
“Thank you.”
“…” Del-Kyuus bit the tip of her claw.
“Del-Kyuus?”
“No, maybe I shouldn’t say it.”
“What is it, Del-Kyuus? I’m willing to hear you out if there’s something on your mind.”
Del-Kyuus squeezed her eyes shut. “I…I know that you two are different. I do.”
“You said that already.”
“…Hiduro doesn’t understand. You ease the pain, but I don’t see you as a replacement. I don’t feel the same way about him that I do about you.”
“That makes sense.”
“I…I just…”
“Del-Kyuus, can I tell you something?”
“What’s that?”
“Well…I am really glad you told me you don’t see me as a replacement for him, because then I would feel really jealous.”
“About what?”
Salsh-Era looked away from her. Del-Kyuus began to feel flustered. He thrust a letter into her hands. “Here.”
Del-Kyuus opened the letter.

Zahelahe Del-Kyuus–
I don’t have the courage to say this aloud, so I’m writing you this letter. I’m glad for our friendship over the past few years. You are such a kind soul and are so easy to talk to. I have truly enjoyed my friendship with you.
I am writing to tell you that I want something more. I love you, Del-Kyuus. If you don’t feel the same just burn up this letter and forget I ever wrote it. But if there’s any chance that you do, I promise to treat you well and be your biggest supporter. Perhaps it sounds cheesy, but this is what you get writing a letter…
Respond as you see fit.
M. S.

Del-Kyuus looked up.
“Salsh-Era…”
“I–I meant to give it to you later, but I just…anyway…respond as you see fit, like the letter says.”
Del-Kyuus smiled. “Okay.” She hugged him.
“I…I was going to say the same, actually,” she said. “What I was going to tell you was, I feel differently about you two, and this is the big difference. He was a funny boy and a good friend, but you I see in a different light…I just thought that maybe it would sound cheesy…”
“Ah, heh heh…”
The two stood there in silence.
“Um…”
“…”
“I have to go home now…but, would you like to go on a date this Weekend?”
“Oh, sure!”
“Okay. How about–um…how about downtown Bledger?”
“O-okay!”
Del-Kyuus sighed. “Sorry, it’s really hard to find a response for this sort of thing…”
“It’s okay, I feel as uncertain as you look…”
Del-Kyuus pulled away from him. “M-maybe we should just save this for later!” She said. Then, she levitated off at a high speed.
Salsh-Era, on the other hand, did not have her same fortitude. He stood there for quite a while longer pondering the fact that what just happened had actually, truly happened.

—–
“If there’s one thing I can’t stand about you two, it’s the PDA.”
“Says the boy who lets his best friend cling all over him,” Salsh-Era said. “Besides, this isn’t PDA. We’re in our house.”
“Well, stop being so affectionate in front of me!”
“San-Kyung, what will you do if you fall in love someday and your partner wants to be affectionate?”
“Romantic love is pointless. Agh. Never mind, I have other things to do.”
“I guess he isn’t always happy with us,” Del-Kyuus said.
“Yeah, of course not. Well, at least now since he’s out of the room, I can call you Kyuusie.”
Del-Kyuus giggled. “When did you first call me that? Our first date?”
“As far as I can remember, yes!”

16.624.Down Grade

The La-Iin Series
Chapter 624
“Down Grade”

Dosa-Mina stared down at his fingers.
“Hey. Dosa-Mina.”
‘How much longer until people ask to see a paw? How much longer until someone looks higher than that? Maybe I should thank Lirako if she reveals my true species.’
“Dosa-Minaaa.”
‘After all, isn’t it worse if people know that I’m cutting? If I go into my true form, I’ll only have to worry about covering one side. And maybe I can grow fur on that side. Or can half-and-halves do that…dang it, I’m half-and-half and I don’t even know how it works.’
“Dosa-Mina?”
‘And after all, my species is more well-known. It’s a fact of my biology. People might question why I hid it, but nobody really knows why I do, so I can just pass it off with an excuse. No excuse I could make for cuts would keep the reaction from being the same. Nothing would…’
Dosa-Mina felt someone tap the side of his head.
“Ah, San-Kyung? Did you need something?”
“Biology just ended. You seemed spaced out throughout all of biology. One of your favorite subjects. I’m not blind, Dosa-Mina. …I may be scared of the police, but I don’t care about getting in trouble if you need one of those bitches murdered…”
“That’s going too far, San-Kyung.”
“Fine, I’ll singe their fur off. Cold weather’s coming soon anyway. Might be funny to see them walk around furless.”
“They’ll just wear heavy clothes,” he sighed. “Anyway, school isn’t the place to talk about this. I don’t need her overhearing you and deciding to tell the entire class…I have enough problems right now.”
“Need to blow off steam? You always offered that for me.”
Dosa-Mina shook his head. “Blowing off steam is easy for you. Not so much for me. I don’t even feel like being affectionate, and that at least usually comforts me. I’m just kind of stuck in a rut. Tell me, San-Kyung, am I getting more obvious?”
“I don’t know. I already know, so I can’t think about it from the perspective of someone who doesn’t. Or didn’t,” he said, glaring at Lirako.
“I’m glad you’re offering to help me, San-Kyung. But it’s okay. I have periods like this and I get past them. Besides, you have more to worry about than I do. Your problems aren’t your fault. Mine are. Whereas someone accidentally dug a grave for you and spilled water near it, I dug my own grave, spilled water on the ground myself and then tried to run away from it.”
“…”
“It’s what I can say to make me feel better,” Dosa-Mina sighed. “Don’t worry, this will pass. As long as I have Operation Reboot to focus on, it should…”

***

The classes drew to an end for the day, and though Dosa-Mina usually started getting ready to leave immediately, this time, as he had the past few days, he kept an eye on Lirako. But Lirako only talked to Deki-Tyunri, and then Xhen-Bei when he approached her. She didn’t get up to go and talk to Airy-Aekok.
San-Kyung was also watching Lirako closely, with a glare that made him slightly concerned. “Make sure you keep any murder fantasies inside your head.”
“Oh, it’s not murder fantasies. If there’s one thing I can give La-Iin, she might be right about torture being preferable over murder.”
“Talking about me?” La-Iin said. San-Kyung flinched. “That makes me happy. Maybe you and I should go somewhere soon, without rival-boy. It’s been a while hasn’t it?”
“Yeah right, La-Iin. I’ve never wanted to go somewhere alone with you, not even now that we’re closer.”
“That’s a lie, and you know it. But I really am glad, San-Kyung. You bringing me up to rival-boy, it almost feels like you’ve noticed…” She giggled to herself. “Well, see you tomorrow.”
San-Kyung waved absently.
“I guess we should go now,” Dosa-Mina whispered. “It doesn’t look like she or Airy-Aekok is going to say anything. I guess she’s kept her promise for now.”
“I don’t trust her to keep it. There has to be something we can do to keep her from saying anything. I wonder…maybe you should keep looking into potions. They seem like they could be helpful.”
“Who knows.”
“Mr. Dslellular?”
Dosa-Mina sat up straight. Hyungdarou was standing at the entrance to the primary classroom.
“Yes, Miss Hyungdarou?”
“The Principal wants to see you. She said it’s a bit of a concerning matter.”
“Huh?”
San-Kyung’s expression became dark, but Dosa-Mina didn’t notice. He nodded and walked after Hyungdarou.
‘What could the Principal want me for? Did I do something wrong?’
Thoughts of his school files, the species written as N/A, raced through his mind. ‘Oh, come on. I thought I heard some of the Class A students did that. …I’m really scraping the bottom of the barrel if I’m justifying my actions by Class A’s doing the same…’
He sat down in the faculty room. Hyungdarou also took a seat. The Principal and Hyungdarou weren’t the only ones in there either–as usual, Sharai sat next to the Principal, though he was distracted with papers.
“Mr. Dslellular. Thank you for taking the time to come and talk with us. This matter may not seem urgent in your eyes, but we were incredibly concerned. Especially Miss Hyungdarou. It was her idea that we talk to you.”
“It was?”
Hyungdarou nodded.
“Mr. Dslellular, you are one of the best students in Class D. Your grades consistently rank up there with students such as Mr. Molshei, Miss Vampiris and Miss Sherry. You even stack up quite well against the smartest students of Class C, the class with the most consistently high grades. In short, you are one of our model students.”
“Um, thank you.”
“But there’s a problem.”
“What?”
“Recently there was a bit of homework that needed to be turned in. Even with your high grades, you have never done perfect and so we wouldn’t expect you to, but it was noticed that your grades in that bit of homework were abysmal. Miss Hyungdarou also noticed that you haven’t been concentrating at all in biology, especially yesterday and today. She said that she called for you both days and you didn’t respond so she moved on to another student.”
“You did? Why didn’t San-Kyung tell me?”
“I called on him next in one of those cases,” Hyungdarou said.
“It’s jarring, and I understand that sometimes we have our bad days. Perhaps it’s nothing to worry about at all, but even if it’s a one-off it’s a very startling drop. The grade on your homework was on par with Class A grades.”
Dosa-Mina shuddered.
“Mr. Dslellular, is something wrong at home? If it’s nothing, you needn’t tell us, but if there is anything we can do, we would like to help you.”
‘It’s obvious,’ he thought. ‘If I keep going at this rate, my grades won’t be the only things suffering. I won’t need Lirako or Airy-Aekok to reveal my species, I’ll just slip up myself. Ha ha…this is just great.’
The looks on the faces of the Principal, Sharai and Hyungdarou became more concerned, but Dosa-Mina didn’t pay them mind.
“It has to be nothing,” he said quietly. “Nothing bad has happened to me, except I got sick right before school started. I must have been distracted when I was doing my homework. There’s a specific subject I’ve been studying a ton, like really specific. Like what you do in your classes, Miss Hyungdarou.”
Hyungdarou began to look embarrassed.
“So it must have just sent everything I knew flying right out the window! I was so distracted learning about that subject, I didn’t think while doing my homework.”
“…” The trio looked among each other.
“Fair enough, Mr. Dslellular,” the Principal said. “I’ll believe your story for now. Try to pay more attention while doing your homework, and in class.”
“You are welcome to talk to the school about anything concerning you,” Hyungdarou said. “The faculty will not leak your personal secrets nor judge you.”
“Yeah right. That’ll only make me the one who does that.”
Dosa-Mina hadn’t noticed he had spoken the world aloud. He waved to the trio and left the room. San-Kyung was waiting right outside.
“What got you called to the Principal?”
“Apparently I did really shitty with my last homework, and they were wondering if my brain was turning to Class A mush. But I think it’s just because I’ve been focused on Operation Reboot?”
“…that’s not it, is it.”
“We can talk about this later, San-Kyung,” Dosa-Mina said. “But once you’ve gotten out everything you want to say I don’t want to hear about it any more. I’m tired of all this…”

—–
“I don’t think Mr. Dslellular was telling the truth.”
“I don’t either, Miss Hyungdarou, but what are we supposed to do? We cannot peer into the private lives of our students.”
“We could always call his parents,” Sharai suggested.
“But it is not our business to pry. Let us keep an eye on him for now and see if his grades continue to suffer first. I don’t believe his story, but let us give him the benefit of the doubt for now. If he’s telling the truth, the proof will show itself to us soon enough.”
“Yeah, maybe we should give him more homework.”
“Perhaps…”

12.620.Catastrophic Coincidences

The La-Iin Series
Chapter 620
“Catastrophic Coincidences”

The last class had just ended, and students were heading out of the classroom fairly quickly. Most who hadn’t were getting ready to, all except for Lirako. After talking with Deki-Tyunri for a bit, she head over to Airy-Aekok’s seat.
“Hey, Llanni, you like pumpkins?”
“Yeah, they’re like, super tasty! My dad can usually only get some ’round this time of year. Ooh, now I’ve got a taste for one!”
San-Kyung covered his ears.
“There’s a certain point where you can tell if someone’s saying something to talk about it, and when someone’s saying it to get a reaction,” Dosa-Mina said. Lirako turned to face him.
“Hey, don’t butt in on our conversation.”
“I wasn’t. Everyone in the classroom can tell that you’re just saying that to get attention.”
Most remaining students started to pack up faster, except for Fei-Zhust and Shan-Zetsu, who were morbidly curious to see how things turned out.
“So I can’t just have a conversation with Llanni about pumpkins?”
Dosa-Mina glared at her. “Seeing San-Kyung squirm is just a nice side-effect of these conversations. I actually was curious about her opinion on pumpkins!”
“Hmph.” Dosa-Mina put away the rest of his supplies and stood up. Lirako relaxed on Airy-Aekok’s desk.
“You know, for someone who presents himself as so tough, he’s such a pussy when it comes to eating pumpkins.”
Lirako’s eyes widened and she giggled.
“What’s so funny about that?”
“No, it’s not that, just a joke I wanted to make…you know how when people die, we just bury their bodies? Well, with an Animated Pumpkin, we could mourn them and then make their body into all sorts of tasty treats! It sure would be sad, but then we’d always have a part of them with us!”
Airy-Aekok began to giggle.
“Just imagine, San-Kyung pumpkin pie!” Lirako chortled.
Lirako was so caught up in her laughter, she didn’t notice that Dosa-Mina had approached her. She only noticed when she felt a hand smack her right in the face.
“Now I know you’re just doing it on purpose.”
“What the…that was uncalled for!”
“If it makes you shut up, I don’t care.” He then walked out of the classroom, San-Kyung behind him. Lirako rubbed her cheek.
“You alright?”
“Physically, yeah. But emotionally, I’m pissed!”

‘It’s so nice to just take a walk sometimes!’
Dosa-Mina had been having a boring day. Both his parents had been called in to work to cover for someone, and his two closest friends San-Kyung and Sirlie-Baecho were unavailable. He had tried to do some species study, but found himself bored by either things he already knew well, or that he didn’t understand to the point that it nearly gave him a headache.
So instead, he decided to take a walk, and only a little bit into it he felt like all his cares were melting away. There was no concern of Operation Reboot, no concern of La-Iin or Lirako or Airy-Aekok, no concern of his cuts or nightmares or species or any such thing that caused him agony to think about. Instead, he could just walk and sight-see around Bledger.
It was a liberating experience.

“What’d you want me to come out with you for, Llanni?”
“Like, I just thought it’d be fun to hang out, Sanyaow. And maybe it’d cheer you up after yesterday. I know you’ve got, like, lots of other things you could be doing, but my Dad has work tonight so like, I just–”
“I get it, I get it, you don’t have to keep saying ‘like’,” Lirako chuckled. “I like spending time with my friends, so don’t worry about it.”
“Yeah, so I like, figured I’d take you to one of my favorite areas! Downtown has this huge place where they have a ton of musical stuff, and some of my favorite groups they have merchandise for! I have a little vuyong so I thought it’d be fun!”
“I don’t really pay attention to groups much anymore, but it might be nice, if I knew what their music sounded like.”
“I can give you some ideas. One of my favorite groups has a song that goes like this: hmm-hmm-hmm hmm-hmm-hmm hmm hmm hmm….
“I…see.” ‘She sure can chat. Poor girl’s probably lonely. Well, I’m sure this’ll be a fun outing!’
Airy-Aekok led the way to the part of downtown that had the musical merchandise. Once they reached it, Airy-Aekok gasped and ran ahead of her.
“Oh my goooosh! They have my favorite one here! This is the one! This is the one I was singin’ for you just now!”
“Really? Hm, The Multispecies Melody…
“Yeah, they like, called it that ’cause the members just happened to all be different species, but they sing sooo good. I can only imagine that’s what Sirens sound like!”
Lirako giggled. “You think Dosa-Mina sounds like that?”
“How would I know? But I bet he doesn’t sound as good as they do!”
“Probably not as good as a Pureblood Siren either!”
The two giggled before Airy-Aekok showed Lirako the songs on the CD and pointed out her favorites.

***

Unfortunately, at around that time, someone else had entered the area.
Wandering into that part of downtown had been completely arbitrary–he was just walking anywhere he recognized. Downtown was close by, and so he head over there. He was thinking of visiting the stall plaza when he overheard voices–familiar voices.
It wasn’t the voices that bothered him, though. It was what they said.
‘There’s no way they could actually know that!’ He thought. ‘Almost nobody in Bledger knows about my true species, and I’m pretty sure I’d know if someone I know told somebody else! Who would even care to do that!? No, it’s got to be a coincidence.’
He wanted to confront them, to ask them how they could have possibly come to that conclusion, but he felt that if he did that, they would only have their theory confirmed–if it was a theory at all.
“So like yeah, this is by far my favorite song by them. I’d totally recommend this CD.”
“Maybe I’ll look into it, then.”
When Lirako looked up, she caught sight of Dosa-Mina, standing there with his head bowed.
“Hey, look who it is!”
Dosa-Mina flinched. There seemed to be only one option for him right then–run away and pretend he had never heard them. So he dashed off, starting slow at first and hoping they didn’t notice.
“Hey, he ran away!”
“I wonder why? …hey, wait a second…”
“What’s up?”
“Do you think he heard the joke we made about him?” She asked.
“What joke?”
“You know, the thing about him not sounding as good as a Pureblood Siren?”
“Maybe he just didn’t wanna, like, see us…”
“I wonder…maybe we should follow him.”
“Huh?”
“Come on!”

The rest of the walk was agony after what he had heard.
All it brought back were memories of the prior semester, the suspicions Airy-Aekok and Lirako had had that they voiced in front of the whole class. He could definitely tell that a few of his classmates had given the possibility some thought.
‘But they couldn’t know. And they only suspected the Siren part. Male Sirens are rare. It’s not all that far-fetched to think that they might just be continuing on with that assumption and coming to the natural conclusion that I’m only half-Siren. It’s the correct conclusion, but it’s still just their conjecture…and there’s no way they could know. They don’t know where I live, and my species is only in sensitive documents. It should be, anyway…’
Dosa-Mina sighed. ‘I need to stop panicking! There’s no way they could know for sure!’
He picked up his pace. Some distance behind him was Lirako and Airy-Aekok, their eyes focused in his direction.
“What’d you wanna follow him for?” Airy-Aekok whispered.
“We know the truth now, Llanni. Why not tell him?”
“Huh? Why?”
“I’d love to see his reaction, that’s why. And I’d also like to see if he fights back…besides, did we ever agree on keeping it our secret alone forever?”
Dosa-Mina glanced back at them. He hadn’t noticed they were following him until he heard their voices, but what they said made him more uncomfortable than he already was.
‘Calm down! It’s their stupid conclusion. You have no reason to be afraid.’
Dosa-Mina continued onwards, not once looking back–at least not until a paw tapped him on the back.
“Huh?” He decided to play dumb. “…oh. It’s you.” He pushed her paw away and continued to walk on.
“You sure about this, Sanyaow?” He heard Airy-Aekok ask.
“Yeah, I’m sure. And after yesterday, now’s as good a time as ever. Maybe even better than that.”
Lirako took a deep breath. “HEY! WERESIREN!”
Dosa-Mina flinched. ‘There’s no way…’
Lirako ran over to him, Airy-Aekok right behind her.
“We know already.”
“Know what? The obvious? That I’m a Normal?”
Lirako shook her head. “And if you’re jumping to defend your species, that means you already know, too.”
“I figure I know what Weresiren is supposed to mean,” he said. “Stop accusing me of being something I’m not.”
“Ooh, he’s fighting,” Lirako said.
Dosa-Mina grit his teeth. “Just stop, okay? I don’t need you spreading rumors about me being something I’m not. Especially since people tend to be wary around Sirens.”
“Nobody’s wary around Melongie,” Airy-Aekok said. “And she’s, like, a Pureblood. Sanyaow just called you a half-Siren.”
“Besides, you might say that, but some people are more “adventurous” than us. Are you sure spreading ‘rumors’ would make people believe something untrue, or is it possible they’d find out without a doubt?”
“It’s not true!”
Lirako sighed. “Your jumping. You not wanting to sing. Your strength. All those things align with Werewolf-Siren. So does you being able to transform into a Normal. And yellow is an unusual eye color for a Normal. Not so much for a Werewolf.”
“It doesn’t matter what you say. It’s not true.”
“Dslellular, we like, saw an official document that had your species on it.”
“All my official documents say Normal!”
“The one at school says N/A. And the one Llanni saw said differently.”
“You know other people are named Dosa-Mina, right?”
“I’m pretty sure you’re the only Dslellular Dosa-Mina in Bledger.”
“I haven’t been keeping in touch with my Dad’s side of the family.”
Lirako’s eyes widened and her ears twitched. “That’s it!”
“What’s it?”
Lirako smirked. “Hey, Dosa-Mina. If you’re so adamant on being a Normal, then it doesn’t matter if I tell everyone at school my suspicions, does it? After all, even if they go to see your parents, they won’t see a Werewolf and a Siren.”
“Or two Werewolf-Sirens,” Airy-Aekok added.
“They’ll instead see two Normals and then my theory will be proven wrong. Isn’t that right? So don’t worry. Nobody’ll believe me. It’ll just be like every other false rumor that ever–”
“Stop!”
Dosa-Mina lowered his head. He felt backed into a corner. Now it was obvious he couldn’t escape this–even if he ran now, that might only encourage her more.
There was only one option left to him to reduce the damage as much as possible.
“Please don’t tell anyone what you know,” he said. “Please…”
“So it’s true?”
Dosa-Mina didn’t respond.
“Alright, we won’t. Right, Llanni?”
“I won’t, like, ever unless you let me.”
“But in exchange you have to promise you won’t mess up. By that I mean don’t screw up and make me want to tell everyone, and you’re good.”
Dosa-Mina looked up at her. “…you really are a bitch.”
“If you don’t want all of Malicerie calling you Weresiren, then you’re not gonna call me a bitch ever again. We have a deal, so long as you behave.”

—–
“Hey, Sanyaow…”
“Yeah?”
“Don’t you think it was a little, like, excessive what you did?”
“What, am I supposed to just take him calling me a bitch?”
“No, I just didn’t think you were really all that nice to him.”
“He hasn’t been nice to me either.”
“I guess…”
“I don’t intend on suppressing him, only keeping him from being mean to you and me. That’s all.”
“If you say so.”

“Hey, Dosa-Mina! Where were–huh?” Orlin-Aesth sighed. “What’s gotten into him?”
Dosa-Mina ran into his room, all intents to call San-Kyung and tell him what had happened. He picked up the phone, he dialed his number, and waited for him to pick up.
“What’s up, Dosa-Mina?”
But when he heard his voice, he couldn’t bring himself to say it.
“…it’s nothing.” Before he could respond, Dosa-Mina hung up. He felt like he was choking up. Today had already been bad enough, and he definitely did not want to cry to San-Kyung over the phone.