I'm still so conflicted and I'm not sure where we'll end with this story.There are so many theories, so many possibilities. Am I the only one scared? Anyhow, I hope you enjoy this week's chapter and remember even after Orange Marmalade is finished, I'll keep writing this story for a few more chapters, giving us an alternative ending for all those who suffer Second Lead Syndrome (SLS) like me.

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Previously on Orange Marmalade: Look At Me

Prologue

Chapter 1

Chapter 2

Chapter 3

Chapter 4

Chapter 5

Chapter 6

Chapter 7

Chapter 8


Orange Marmalade: Look At Me
Chapter 9: What To Do?

She struggles in my arms, I feel her tensing and fighting me. A natural rejection she doesn’t even think about, she just responds like that. Why does she act like this? Why is she so foolish as to make her life harder than it already is? Trying to be near that bastard is only causing her pain, and it’s not natural, she shouldn’t even try. Humans are still filled with prejudices and ignorance, hatred for our species and they are scared, so scared of anything that could hurt them. Even if one accepts her, the rest of the world will be against her. And even if that wasn’t hard enough, even if that didn’t sound like a daily nightmare… she still chooses him. And he is one of the worst kind, with so much hatred and resentment to all vampires alike. But she still chooses him.

What else can I do?

She could stay with me, even if she doesn’t want to lie anymore and have a honest life, without pretence… we could do that together. No one else will understand her like I do, a human can never get what it is to be treated this way, to be hated for just being what you are without caring whether you are good or bad.

But she doesn’t want to stay with me. She wants the daily nightmare over a comfortable life.

So I lie, to her and to myself. Even if I hug her because I want her to stay with me and to make that punk realise he lost his chance already, I tell her to wait and bear with what I’m doing because if she is not going to choose me, then I’ll make sure that bastard at least deserves her. If he can love her better than I do, if he can protect her better, if he can understand her… then I’ll walk away. But if he can’t, if his own feelings aren’t that powerful as to overcome his bloody amnesia and all those sick prejudices, then he doesn’t deserve her and I won’t step aside.

So no, I’m not just helping her, I’m also testing him and hoping he will fail. I’m seeing how strong and honest his feelings are and if he is worthy of being by Ma Ri’s side. If that bastard fails, Ma Ri will have to see it, too. She can’t live forever following him or enduring all that mistreat just to share a classroom with him.

“What will you do if he never remembers you? Do you plan on living on his shadow forever?” I ask her when I finally see her home and before I leave to my own place. I don’t have to freeload at hers anymore.

“I don’t know… For now I just want to help him remember and stay near him,” she answers.

“What will you do when he meets another girl? When he dates a human? When he marries one? Will you put your life on hold for him?”

She can’t look at me but I can read the pain and fear in her expression, in the way her brows furrow and how she squeezes the bag he gave her.

“I’ll help you if that’s what you want, to push him face his own feelings but promise me one thing,” I try this time, making a deal with her. “If he doesn’t remember you, if he blocks you forever because he can’t accept you for what you are… then you’ll live your own life. Promise me that and I’ll help you.”

We stare at each other for a few seconds. I know she’s hesitating because she still has hopes he will remember, but she is also scared he will not.

“I promise,” she finally agrees with a shaky smile. I try to give a reassuring one before I pat her head, trying to calm her after pushing her to imagine something that hurt her.

“And even then I’ll help you, okay?” She smiles more warmly when I say that, making my heart racing a bit, so I step back, breaking contact. “Go in, I’ll see you tomorrow at school.”

“Oh,” she says, giving me one last smile and going inside her house. I stay there for a few seconds before turning around and heading to my own place.

I feel my chest heavy and my head foggy, but I’ve decided to help her already. I have to carry on. I have to give up on Ma Ri, help her be with Jung Jae Min and stay on my own. But then I remember the words of that man at the VCS, that part of the offer they mentioned before I accepted the deal.

My family. I might get them back, even if I lose Ma Ri to that punk, I might still save them.

So I lie to myself when I try to convince myself that having back my family is enough, that I don’t need anything else. But I’m greedy, I still want her. However, it’s true, having my family back will be better, incredibly better than be left all alone. To be able to do something to save them after causing their doom will finally give me a peace I thought I would never have. Besides helping Ma Ri, I will do my best to save them, even if that means I have to hand Ma Ri to Jung Jae Min. If that helps with the Coexistence Program, then it will benefit me, as well, and my parents. I just have to make sure it’s done properly.

Even if I want my family back, I won’t sacrifice Ma Ri for that, throwing her to the arms to someone who blocks and erases all her memories because it’s just so hard. That cowardice… No, he has to prove himself first and I’ll be watching carefully.

I’ll cooperate with this Coexistence Program for Ma Ri and for my parents, to get them back and save them from Maximum Penalty. And if I can’t make her choose me, then I can at least have my family back. It can’t be all bad, after all.

***

Things aren’t as I expected them to be.

I don’t understand what Jung Jae Min is doing now. It almost seems like he’s protecting her, but he doesn’t even look at her. He’s just around to keep all the other kids at bay. He doesn’t seem to be warming up to her so I don’t think he remembers her yet. He still seems to despise vampires and her for just being one.

But Ma Ri looks so happy. Her smile is so honest and radiant that it makes me feel conflicted. A part of me is happy that she is happy, but I still hate that it’s just because he lets her hang around. It makes me want to smack some sense in his head because he’s acting as if were were in the Joseon Dynasty and she wasn’t at his same level so he’s being magnanimous by allowing her to stay around him. Why does he treat her as if she were inferior just for being a vampire? Hasn’t society evolved enough already? I thought we were long past that stage.

And she also makes me feel so conflicted! I’m proud of her and the way she’s facing life so righteous and straightforward, with her head held high, but at the same time she accepts so much humiliation from Jung Jae Min, just to be around him because that makes her happy. Because that’s enough. Because that’s more than she dreamt of.

I’m trying to help her by skipping class, taking her where she will not be judged and surround her with music… and she still chooses all the kids shaming her just to have that righteous life she wants. It drives me crazy that I’m proud and mad at her for doing that.

I don’t go to school either way. I think it’s better if I don’t. I don’t want to see her smiling like a fool next to Jung Jae Min whilst every other kid is treating her as a monster and as if she were the biggest threat when they are the low creatures in the building, the only disgusting beings. So I skip anyways because I might snap at those stupid kids and cause more trouble, putting in jeopardy the Coexistence Program and with that both Ma Ri and my parents.

I go play music to clear my mind and give me some peace. I certainly don’t expect to see Jo Ah Ra outside the classroom, skipping class in a day like this. She’s the awful girl, the one that’s made things even more difficult for Ma Ri since the first day. She’s the one that acts all good and honest in front of the kids but is plotting how to destroy Ma Ri just because Jung Jae Min is interested in the vampire girl instead of her. Her jealousy is toxic and so evident, but no one else seems to notice.

She is also the one that controls all the other girls and because of that I call her. I am very aware that if she forgets about Jung Jae Min, and leaves all that jealousy behind. Ma Ri wouldn’t have such a hard time. She would leave the vampire girl alone and even convince the others to ignore her. It’s better if the kids isolate Ma Ri instead of bullying her.

That’s why I call her, trying to figure out how to make her leave Ma Ri alone and cooperate with the Coexistence Program, but she’s smarter than I thought. She figures out I’m a vampire like Ma Ri, although it isn’t such a weird thing due to the fact I haven’t been hiding it or anything. It’s just a matter of putting the pieces together. I’ve never really tried to hide what I am.

But she isn’t as scared as I thought she’d be, or even as she herself thought she’d be. I don’t think I can really threaten her to be nicer to Ma Ri, I can’t buy her even because she’s richer than anyone else in the school, although I jokingly try. But maybe I can distract her a bit, confuse her. I should try something to move pieces over this side, considering Ma Ri doesn’t seem to need a black knight anymore.

I don’t think I can stop trying to do something for her, even if it’s pushing her to even fight for herself. She thinks sacrificing herself will make everyone accept her. That’s just being weak and she doesn’t really get the problem when she’s told she has to be replaced in the group. I get angry and frustrated that she is willing to just let that happen to make it easier for the others. So I end up revealing I’m also a vampire even if I shouldn’t, just to add more pressure. It’s also a way to push Jung Jae Min. I want him to see I’m like Ma Ri, we are the same kind. I want to push him and see how he reacts, how he treats Ma Ri after knowing this fact.

But he is still a coward. He acts as if he cares and is protecting her, but then he just pushes her away, insulting her and telling her she’s repulsive for being a vampire. He doesn’t even want to listen to her when he, apparently, remembers Ma Ri getting near his neck like he did when I transferred schools.

He’s just like everyone else and I feel so angered because he’s hurt her.

I must be as fool as her because I help her anyway. I go to him and tell him the things no one is telling him. I rub in his face the fact that he cares about her and he’s an idiot for being an ignorant and disloyal bastard. Honestly, if he doesn’t do anything about this, if he doesn’t apologise or anything else, I don’t care anymore. I won’t let him keep hurting her. If Ma Ri really leaves, I’ll leave with her and make sure he never gets near her again. This is his last chance and I guess that is what I’m doing: giving him an ultimatum.

If he doesn’t stop her, if he lets her leave… then he lost her forever.


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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