*throws confetti* We are having a party after the latest episode of Orange Marmalade! I am so happy after so much crying and seeing the return of our beloved Han Shi Hoo. I KNEW IT! Han Shi Hoo wasn't really dead. My theory was correct and I couldn't be happier. So for now we don't need to stray that much from the plot. By the end we'll have to change things, right? To give our second lead the ending we all want and to soothe our hearts.

Watch the latest episode of Orange Marmalade and then enjoy this chapter of Look At Me!


Previously on Orange Marmalade: Look At Me

Prologue

Chapter 1

Chapter 2

Chapter 3

Chapter 4

Chapter 5

Chapter 6

Chapter 7


Look At Me
Chapter 8: Black Knight



My eyelids flutter open, but I close my eyes immediately after. This room is too light and I’ve been wrapped in darkness for too long. My body feel strong and renewed, I feel stronger than ever, but I’m so tired at the same time. My mind… my mind was numb until now and I’m now putting the pieces together once again. The last thing I remember was facing the sun, wanting the agony to end, this guilt I carry with me. Then it was darkness and dreams… dreams of a long time ago, of a time when I was human, and then vampire again. Where I met Ma Ri again, and loved her again. Dreams that were a reality to me that are nothing but memories. But… where am I now? I don’t think I’m dead. Something isn’t quite right.

I open my eyes again and there’s a human in front of me. He’s dressed in a suit and tie, watching me with cold, calculative eyes that are measuring me, but at the same time they are watching me with a wild fascination, as someone who is watching an illicit exhibition, something exotic. This man knows I’m a vampire and he is not scared. I feel my defences go off, telling me this man isn’t trustworthy

“Han Shi Hoo-ssi,” he says. His voice is cold and detached, it sends chills down my spin. I sit straighter, trying not to look hopeless. “Welcome to the world of the living. We almost lost you.”

“What happened? Why am I here?” My voice is hoarse, my throat dry even if I’m not thirsty. I try to think, looking for some clues that could help me. I remember Ma Ri making me company, asking me to wake up. Did that really happen or was my imagination? “Where am I?” I ask next. If I am where I fear, Ma Ri wouldn’t have a reason to be here.

“You are in the VCS headquarters. You used your special abilities to save a human and then tried to kill yourself by facing the sun unprotected. Han Yoon Jae, your uncle, found you before it was too late. You were rescued. A quarter of your body was burnt and you’ve been for months in an induced coma to recover. Your body is a hundred percent recovered now and you are ready to rejoin society.”

I blink in surprise, processing this information. “Rejoin? I used my special abilities and I was in the black list already.”

The man smiles, a gesture that isn’t comforting, if anything it is just creepy. “You used your abilities to save a human, thus you have been granted a special pardon. However, we have an offer we strongly advise you to take.”

“It sounds like I don’t have an option,” I mutter, looking around to notice the highly equipped room I’m in.

“You always have an option, Han Shi Hoo, if that is the name you want to keep using.” I furrow my brows, trying to follow this man. “We have initiated the Coexistence Program that would allow vampires to live freely among humans without having to hide their identities and without having to relocate and change given identities once found out. It’s just that, an initiative and so far some subjects have revealed their identity and taken part of this beta program.” He smirks, what tells me there’s more than this crazy plan. “One of them known to you. Baek Ma Ri.” I tense immediately when I hear that name. His smirks grows, satisfied with the reaction I’ve given him. “We want to offer you the opportunity to join this program as well. Help us help all vampires and humans to have an peaceful coexistence.”

“Does that mean I have to go somewhere new, saying I’m a vampire and endure hell?” I ask, just to confirm what’s evident already.

“Not necessarily. Like Miss Baek, you can decide to continue where you were, revealing you are a vampire, or you can go somewhere new.” I’m about to ask him to clarify that. How is that Baek Ma Ri is back to where we were before this? “Or,” he stops with a dramatic pause. “You can go with Miss Baek and instead of revealing your identity, you can help us by protecting the volunteer subject from the human prejudices. Almost as a special agent.”

“You’re telling me to be her black night, disguised as a human, because she revealed she’s a vampire to all the kids in school and she’s facing this hell on her own?” He just smiles, the faintest of the nods as the only confirmation. “Aish, that girl,” I mutter to myself.

“What will you decide, Mr. Han. Do we keep calling you that?” he asks, very eagerly.

What does it matter what I want to do? It’s clear they have my path designed and if I refuse to any of this, I’m pretty sure they’ll just give me the maximum sentence. Besides… it’s Ma Ri. I need to protect her. That… that disloyal bastard must be giving her a hell of a time. And that other awful girl. She needs me if now everyone knows she’s a vampire. That stupid girl.

“I’ll keep using Han Shi Hoo and I’m going back to school, to be Baek Ma Ri’s black knight.”

It’s not hard to find Ma Ri in the school once I’m back. Follow where all the kids are pointing and you find her, being an outcast. Exposing herself and enduring it all. How… how can she be this stupid? I have to literally drag her out of everyone’s judgemental stare and hide her so she can eat peacefully. I also use that opportunity to explain her what happened.

A part of me is delighted that she seems so happy to see me alive. So relieved I’m still with her. And even if she’s enduring it all, she is grateful that now she has a black knight who will save her and shield her. And even if she’s a fool for doing this, I’m proud of her. She's braver than many other vampires. I think it’s very different wanting to be a human and pretending to be one from wanting to coexist with them. She is not hiding anymore, she stopped pretending. She’s just being strong. A strong fool. And I will make sure to protect her, from everyone, even if I have to pretend I’m a human like all those other kids.

At the end of classes she disappears before I notice. I don’t think she left like that. She wouldn't without me in this situation, so she left to somewhere else. I think the only place where she could be now is where we spent most of our time before that accident, which is the band club room. I head towards there and before I walk in, I hear them.

That disloyal bastard. How can he treat her like that? He, the one that wanted to protect her, the one for whom both Ma Ri and I exposed our necks for. I knew he was disloyal, but this is absurd. He’s turning his back on her, making her feel low and insignificant.

I butt in because I can’t endure it anymore. And I would punch him until I rearrange his face if it weren’t because Ma Ri stops me, protecting him as usual. The one who couldn’t stay away from her is telling her not to be in his proximity. I want to kill him. But I don’t because of Ma Ri.

When he leaves I turn to look at her, my gaze as severe as I can when it’s about her. “I told you he was a disloyal punk,” I remind her. “It wasn’t me being jealous. I knew he would do this.”

“He has amnesia. He doesn’t remember me, or you, or anything that happened the last four months before the accident,” she explains as if that was reason enough.

“How dare he forget you?” I spat, because to me that’s the worst crime. Even in coma I dreamt of her.

She looks away, her eyes so hurt, reflecting the pain in her heart. As if exposing the fact she’s a vampire wasn’t enough, he’s also making her life even more difficult. If he could be by her side she’d be okay. If the whole world were agains there but she still had Jung Jae Min, she’d be fine. And I’m pretty sure she’s doing all this for him. She’s torturing herself for him… but that punk can’t remember her.

I look away, frustrated myself with this situation, and trying to find a way to help her. That’s when I spot the guitar and I have an idea. So I walk away from her, towards the guitar and grab it. “Yah, Ma Ri-ah, wanna play a bit? I’m not sure if you were there with me or not, but I think I could hear your music.”

She turns around and meets my eyes, her smile coming back. “I was there. I could visit you a few times only, when you were better and before I left the VCS headquarters,” she explains. “I used to play for you. I’ve heard music helps.”

“I heard you, then. Wanna play together this time?” I ask, thankful that she was by my side when I was barely alive.

“I’d like that.”

So I hand her the guitar and grab another for me. We tune them and then she starts playing a tune. It’s familiar, I think she played it when I was in coma. I recognise it somehow, my heart completely familiar with it, my fingers following her more naturally than breathing. We play together, creating a beautiful melody that makes her glow. Each chord takes away a bit of her sorrow and her smile becomes more radiant. I watch her and my soul stirs, making me feel so hopeless next to her.

As we play, nothing else matters. The whole world disappears, all the worries, all the people. This new law. The program. The kids outcasting her. Jung Jae Min betraying her. Nothing of that matters, it’s just the music and us. And it’s perfect. It should be always like this.

We leave when she’s smiling honestly and looks a lot brighter. Only then we leave the school and walk together home. But on the way I notice how she’s holding tightly to a bag containing a purse. She didn’t have it before, but she had it in the band club room… where she was with that punk.

All my muscles tense when I realise who gave her that and why she’s holding it like that. There’s only one explanation. And I want to set that purse in flames, angry that she stills holds it like that after what he’s done to her. Why can’t she realise he doesn’t deserve her? That she is worth so much more than this? I hate scolding her or hurting her in any way, but I don’t know another way to make her understand. I need to make her snap.

But she likes him so much. She likes him so much she’s capable of enduring all this, to hold on to a stupid bag and the hopes she’ll make him remember and accept her as she is. She doesn’t understand how much he hates vampires. For how long he’s been hating us all alike. She think she can change that? And what does she expect from a relationship with a human? Our lifespans are different and we can barely dare to a coexistence. It won’t be fixed in a year. People will keep treating her like the plague just for what she is, being the hypocrites they are.

She's hurting so much for him and I know it’s partly my fault, for pushing her to even talk about this, but it’s him. He is hurting her, he is the one breaking her heart. So when I see him I just want to take her away from him, somewhere where he can’t hurt her anymore.

I remember the day I met him, when he came looking for her, too, and kissed her neck. When he refused to stay away from Ma Ri. I won’t let him hurt her again like that, to mess her life like that again. He needs to know I am by her side this time and if he can’t accept her as she is, and will treat her like an outcast like the others, then he better leave her alone. I am her black knight.

I act before I can think better, taking a step closer to her and wrapping my arm around her shoulders, pulling her towards me until I’m hugging her. She’s small and thin, but she fits next to me so perfectly. I’m here to protect her and she’ll find a shield in me. And Jung Jae Min needs to know that. I glare at him saying things I don’t need to utter.

I’m with her now, back off.

And he better get the message.


This is a work of fiction with no profit intent. All characters and context belong to the rightful writers of the webcomic and drama. This is made by a crazy obsessed fan for other fans who suffer from Second Lead Syndrome.

Bel, xx

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