And it's time, the final chapter of this spin off of Orange Marmalade! Finally, we see our Shi Hoo getting his happy ending! I hope you enjoy this chapter as much as I do. There's the epilogue left for next week, so look forward that! 

Also, What other Second Lead Syndrome do you have that you'd like to get "fixed"? I have so many! 

That said, enjoy the final chapter of Orange Marmalade: Look At Me!

Watch Orange Marmalade:

Previously on Orange Marmalade: Look At Me

Chapter 1
Chapter 2
Chapter 3
Chapter 4
Chapter 5
Chapter 6
Chapter 7
Chapter 8
Chapter 9
Chapter 10
Chapter 11
Chapter 12
Chapter 13
Chapter 14
Chapter 15
Chapter 16
Chapter 17
Chapter 18
Chapter 19
Chapter 20

Orange Marmalade: Look At Me
Chapter 21: Look At Me

         Whether they bring good or bad news, the doctors never change expression; so I don’t even try to guess what they might come to tell me when Doctor 1 and Doctor 2 walk inside my room in the VCS. I put the guitar aside, and so does Ma Ri who, per usual, is by my side.

“We have come to a conclusion,” says Doctor 1, his facial expression as stoic as ever. I fight the urge to yawn because the mere fact that I’m seeing his face makes me sleepy. “And yes, we are certain of the results for we have run many tests to ensure your safety, and everyone else’s.”

“And what is the result?” I ask because even if they don’t beat around the bushes, they do take quite a long to deliver the news.

“The procedure was a complete success. Your blood does react accordingly to the SPA, which means you can endure the sunlight once again,” Doctor 2 finally informs.

“Really? It worked? No side effects?” Ma Ri asks, utterly excited, more than I, that is for sure. I’m still a bit shocked to be honest.

“Aside from the side effect of sharing blood with other vampires, Mr Han is fine as ever. His organism has fully accepted the transfusion and everything works normally.” I think I see a small smile on Doctor 2’s face, but I can’t be sure. Ma Ri turns to look at me, grabbing my hands in excitement, as the widest and brightest smile adorns her lips.

“Did you hear that?” A small giggle escapes her. “It worked! It really did, you can leave now.”

“Yes,” Doctor 2 confirms. “You may leave the facilities, although we suggest you pay monthly visits to make sure nothing has changed. Regarding the bond you’ve created with the donors, only if you ever get fairly away from any of them you’ll feel the connection. It’ll be mostly with the girl as the other donors are your parents, and that connection is given already. Aside from that, it should not be a burden at all.”

Ma Ri never loses her smile, even when she hears about the side effect that comes with her help. Since the transfusion till now she’s been always with me so I haven’t tested the supposedly bond we’ve created. I wonder how far we need to get to actually feel it.

“When can he leave?” Ma Ri asks for me once again. She’s probably tired of this place. I certainly am.

“We’ve contacted his guardians. They are on their way to pick him up. He can leave as soon as them sign the papers in which they plead to come once every month for regular check-ups.”

“Thank you so much!” Ma Ri exclaims, rising to her feet to give them a proper and polite bow. I’m still on the bed, kind of trapped in a trance, so it’s her the one grabbing my wrist and pulling me back on my feet and pushing my head to bow, too.

They barely nod before turning around and leaving, so it’s only Ma Ri and I in the room again, and when the door closes behind the doctors, she jumps in my arms, too excited to be contained. I clumsily receive her, stumbling two steps backwards, but regaining my balance on time. My arms wrap around her, hesitantly and slowly, not sure if I’m allowed to do this, but she has such tight grip around my neck.

“It worked! I told you it would work!” she sing-songs in my ear, hugging me even tighter.

It starts to sink in that it’s over, I’ve finally been told I can leave and that I’m okay. I can have back the life I thought completely lost. And as I realise that, my own arms wrap tighter around Ma Ri, pulling her closer, burying my face in her shoulders and taking deep breaths. I can hear her giggle in sheer happiness.

I feel her pulling back first, so I loosen my arms and give her the space she’s trying to reclaim, yet I keep her close, only looking in her eyes, drinking in that precious smile she’s giving only to me.

“It’ll be fine. You’ll go back to school and everything will go back to normal,” she reminds me and I nod, although I do I feel a small jab in my chest because going back to normal means she goes back to Jung Jae Min. It won’t be just the two of us anymore. “What’s wrong?” she asks me, probably seeing the change in my eyes.

The problem with having spent so much time together is that Ma Ri can read me better now, I can’t really hide things from her anymore.

“Aren’t you excited about that? You can’t tell me you like it in here.”

“It’s not that,” I mumble, looking away for a second. “It’s just… I got used to this dynamic. You’ll go back to your routine and it won’t be like this anymore. Between us, I mean.”

I feel terribly embarrassed to say this, but it’s not like she doesn’t know my feelings. I did tell her before the procedure, when I thought I wouldn’t make it. Given, we haven’t talked about it, but it’s not like she didn’t hear me or doesn’t remember.

“Do you mean Jung Jae Min?” she asks and I have to close my eyes for a second, trying to control my expression. “I need to talk to him, and I can tell you it won’t be the same, but I need to talk to him first. I owe him that,” she continues, surprising me. That doesn’t sound like an apology, or even as an uncertainty. Quite the opposite. But I don’t want to get hopeful, I don’t want to fill my head with ideas and possibilities when she’s not being exactly clear. “I’ll talk to him and once that is solved, we’ll talk, too. Can you give me some more time?”

Because I don’t exactly know how to reply, I just nod, doing my best to keep my cool without giving away too much. But then Ma Ri smiles at me, cheerfully and just a bit apologetic

So I give her all the time she needs, which helps me to catch up with many things now that I can step under the sunlight again. My first step outside the VCS is hesitant, fearful, but once I receive the first bit of light and this doesn’t burn me, the smile is automatic. In one heartbeat I’m completely under the sun, my eyes closed and my face turned to the sky, enjoying every bit I can get. I chuckle without realising because I had missed this so much. Next to me Ma Ri grabs my hand and squeezes it tightly before giving me a bright smile.

That’s the last time I see her for a week, but it’s okay, I have loads to do. Before I even dare to go back to school I still have to take care of a few things, prepare for the exams I missed and some more. I keep myself busy, but I do feel her absence. I don’t know if it’s because I got used to having her next to me or because the bond we now share after sharing blood. It’s hard to tell.

I also feel anxious, and sad although I don’t really know why. There’s an edge of regret tightening my chest, and for some reason I think these aren’t really my emotions. They don’t feel like mine. It’s like music coming from another room, I can still hear it but it’s muffled and not as sharp as it should be. So I suspect these emotions are Ma Ri’s, and they involve Jung Jae Min.

I also assume that when the feeling of regret and sorry are the strongest is when she is definitely talking to Jung Jae Min. My chest is tight, my own anxiety getting mixed with these other emotions, making a mess of me.

I can barely focus when this happens so I decide to go out to get some air, not really explaining my parents where I’m going but telling them I will be back soon. I go for a high place because somehow those help me clear my mind. I end up in the rooftop of my building, lying on my back and with my eyes closed. I listen to music, hoping that will help me, but I still have a tornado in my soul. I wish I could know what is happening, what she’s telling him, what he is replying. I wish I could be there to help her. I can almost feel where she is, and I think that if I really focused on that I could find her, but I don’t try that.

I just wait.

She said that once she talked to Jung Jae Min then we would talk. I’m not sure about what, but I have to wait to see.

It feels like an eternity when the emotions change, when I also feel some relief although guilt is still there, lurking in the shadows. I also feel her getting closer and I realise she’s coming to me, now. She really is. This bond is no joke because I even feel her when she’s climbing the last bit of stairs to get to the rooftop, and because my anxiety is eating me alive, I’m on my feet and running to the door before she can open it, almost crushing into her when I open it.

“Shi Hoo-ah,” she breathes out, her eyes wide and anxious. “I— I knew you’d be here. I could… feel it,” she explains and I nod because it’s the same for me.

“You were talking to Jung Jae Min,” I venture and now it’s her the one nodding. “How did that go?”

“I wish I could say well,” she begins and my guts twist in fear. “But there’s no way that could’ve gone well. I just hope it’ll get better.”

“What happened?” I ask frantically, wanting to know exactly what that conversation was about and how it affects me.

Ma Ri stops to take a deep breath, her own eyes now showing me the guilt I already felt, but also determination. “It’s over between us. We were falling out for a month already, but now it’s definitely over.” I take a sharp breath when she says that, my heart scared to believe her words. “No matter how much you shake the bottle to mix the water and oil together, they will always go back to their separate states.”

“I’m… I’m sorry,” I offer because I don’t know what else to say. I know she’s hurting because no matter what, Jung Jae Min is important for her. If she were human or if he were vampire, I’m pretty sure they would still be together.

Ma Ri shakes her head, dismissing my words. “It’s how it should be. Besides… how can I be with him if I have… if I have feelings for someone else? If there’s someone else I can’t live without? Someone who’s bonded to me now. It doesn’t seem fair to him, or to me. It’s certainly not fair to that someone.”

I can’t even take a breath now, my heart racing to a dangerous speed that actually scares me.

“Do you—?” I can’t even finish the question, my racing heart doesn’t even let me talk.

“Yes,” she replies nonetheless. “I’m talking about you, Han Shi Hoo. I want to cherish you as much as you cherish me, if you let me.” I see fear and doubt in her eyes when she says those words, but my heart is wanting to break free because I’m just so happy. Because I can’t even believe this is actually happening. I can’t believe she’s really come to me.

I laugh, in delirious delight, taking two steps forward and grabbing her in my arms so tightly, my face buried in her neck. This surprises her, but she reacts anyway, hugging me back, and laughing with me, clearly understanding what my reaction means.

“Of course!” I laugh, putting her down and pulling back enough to meet her eyes. I cup her cheeks in my hands, brushing every loose strand of hair away. I’m unable to get rid of my own smile, and I don’t even want to.

I press our foreheads together and I take a first deep breath, letting the reality of this moment sink in.

If I had to die for this chance to become real, then I don’t regret anything. If all I did has led me to this moment, then everything was worth it.

I finally close the distance between us in the way I’ve wanted to do so many times, tentatively pressing my lips to hers, and when she doesn’t pull back, I press them more firmly, properly kissing her, letting my eyes close and a sigh escape me because it’s finally happening. She’s finally here with me, she’s finally decided to give me a chance and staying by my side. She is finally looking at me.

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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