Chapter 76:

He’s an Enigma…

New Leaf!

About an hour ago, I arrived at the office… And it took me about twenty minutes to actually get to my workspace because I’m unfamiliar with the setup of this place. But I arrived. Compared to my usual workspace, this one looks cleaner and newer despite it being established before ours. I guess it’s because of the added benefit and funds for being in the capital city.Bookmark here

When I eventually got to my computer, I didn’t see Ren; here, my computer is directly next to his. So, where is he? Well, we’re called to other places sometimes, so maybe he was called to one of those.Bookmark here

“Oh? Ms Hollow, good morning.”Bookmark here

“Good morning…”Bookmark here

But other than that, I noticed something odd. When I logged into my account, I found that most of my outstanding work was completed. Some spreadsheets were already filled in… Some pieces of code were flawlessly done… All of my reports were written in full detail.Bookmark here

What’s going on? These were still incomplete yesterday… And I didn’t do them previously and forgot. So… It has to be Ren… That’s the only thing that I could think of… But why would he complete my work? Bookmark here

What is he thinking right now? Does it relate to what happened yesterday? Hm… Camryn’s story was pretty sad, so maybe it took a toll on him. But how? Um… I know it’s offensive and wrong to admit this, but Ren isn’t really the emotional type of person. He mainly focuses on tangible affairs, and he does not let emotions affect him — that’s bad… Bookmark here

I want to talk to him — I’m really concerned about him… But I can’t right now. There is still a sizable portion of work to do, and I know the superiors will be all over me if they catch me doing anything different.Bookmark here

So that’s what I’m currently doing — completing my work as quickly as I can. And it’s stupid, but I feel like I’m wasting time by not talking to Ren…Bookmark here

Bookmark here

I tried… After about an hour, I couldn’t take it…Bookmark here

I raised my hand and called out to my supervisor.Bookmark here

“Um… Sir, I’m heading to the washroom quickly…”Bookmark here

“Hm? Yeah, that’s fine.”Bookmark here

I got up from my seat and walked out of the door and into a carpeted hallway with white walls. I’m going to look for Ren. I can’t call him because we get poor service in this building, and he probably won’t answer because we’re at work.Bookmark here

This feeling… This feeling of curiosity was taking over. Why did Ren leave early? Why did he complete most of my work? Why did I sense a disturbance last night after Camryn confessed her past? Why?..Bookmark here

And… I’m concerned about him. What is he feeling? Is he disturbed about something? Dammit, Ren! Don’t you know that we’re friends!? I know I can be harsh at times, but I still care for you! Connie and Valerie care for you! Can’t you understand!? Why must you hide your feelings!? Why must you keep them hidden!? Bookmark here

Dammit, I’m just not knowledgeable enough about this kind of stuff… But what I do know is that you can share… In fact, you have to share. It… It was the same as when we were in high school… There’s a reason I told you why you were a nuisance to me. I couldn’t take it — the stress… the worry… They were all crushing me! And… And I’m grateful that I got to share that with you… It was because you really helped. You taught me to love my achievements! You told me not to let anyone affect my opinions on my growth! You taught me that not everyone has to be considered competition! Thank you…Bookmark here

But now, it’s my turn. And not just me — rely on anyone else in our group. It’s because we’re all indebted to you… No, it’s because we all love you!..Bookmark here

...But speak of the devil…Bookmark here

As I was walking, Ren popped out of a room on the side. I could only see his back because he was walking in the same direction as me. He looked the same, walking with a proper gait and straight back… But even so, I was a little bit nervous. It’s invisible to the naked eye, but that wasn’t Ren…Bookmark here

“R-Ren!”Bookmark here

I lightly jogged up to him.Bookmark here

“Ren, wait…”Bookmark here

Then he turned to face me… Bookmark here

And that was when my suspicions became concrete — there’s something tormenting Ren… His face wasn’t properly cleaned… There were dark spots under his red eyes… Anyone would suspect sleep deprivation, but I picked up on something deeper… I’ve been around Ren enough to notice something was off… He’s scared — or more accurately, he’s avoiding something scary…Bookmark here

I wanted to speak normally, but I sounded on edge.Bookmark here

“G-Good morning, Ren.”Bookmark here

“Good morning, Bailey.”Bookmark here

No… He’ll suspect something if he doesn’t detect my usual energetic tone. But I think he’ll suspect something more if I try to fake it.Bookmark here

I took a deep breath.Bookmark here

“Ren-”Bookmark here

“Bai-”Bookmark here

But we spoke over each other…Bookmark here

“S-Sorry, Ren. Please, go first…”Bookmark here

He nodded.Bookmark here

“Okay… Bailey, what is the progress of your work?”Bookmark here

“Oh?”Bookmark here

Why is he asking about that? We’re collaborating, but my work doesn’t interfere with his…Bookmark here

“Um… I’m almost finished with my final assignment. Why?”Bookmark here

“I see…”Bookmark here

He nodded again. It was hard to tell, but he looked content.Bookmark here

“Then Bailey… If all goes well, we will be leaving today at around noon.”Bookmark here

W-What!? At noon? How is that possible? According to the Boss’ schedule, we should still have a day and a half’s worth of work still to be done. But it was cut down by that much? Bookmark here

“W-What!? Why!?”Bookmark here

“If you only have one last thing and you complete it, we won’t have any outstanding work left. Therefore, we can go back to our office…”Bookmark here

I see… But how was the work cut down? The client couldn’t have reduced the workload. Unless…Bookmark here

Ren turned around and was about to leave, but I stopped him.Bookmark here

“Wait, Ren…”Bookmark here

I came to a realization about something.Bookmark here

“Um… Were you the one that completed most of my work?”Bookmark here

He turned around and nodded at me.Bookmark here

“Yes.”Bookmark here

“A-And you complete the majority of your’s, right?”Bookmark here

“Yes.”Bookmark here

“What!?”Bookmark here

My voice was raised in disbelief. He managed to do an entire day’s worth of work… But for how long?Bookmark here

“Wait, Ren… You sent me that text at around 6:00… But when did you actually get here?”Bookmark here

He nodded… I want to believe that he was ashamed of his answer…Bookmark here

“I got here at 2:00 in the morning…”Bookmark here

“What!?”Bookmark here

So it all makes sense… He was working for that long… It makes sense why his appearance looks so improper. And the work being reduced makes sense — it actually wasn’t reduced, and Ren was working for seven additional hours to get through them. But my share as well? Anyone would need double the time to do that, but no…Bookmark here

“O-Oh my gosh!.. Ren, are you okay!? Working for that long… You must be tired, right?”Bookmark here

But he shook his head again. And I couldn’t tell if he was lying or not.Bookmark here

“No, I am fine…”Bookmark here

“Ren, you’re obviously not!”Bookmark here

My voice was louder than before. If he does not want to listen to his own bodily concerns, I have to drill them into him.Bookmark here

“Ren, no regular person can do that. You were up for around nine hours now! You were working on a day’s worth of assignments, and including my share, you’ve been working on double the workload! That’s too much for that time period!”Bookmark here

“It was fine…”Bookmark here

What!? I was angry, but I was angry for his sake… And that rage led me to curl my finger in a fist and throw a punch at him.Bookmark here

“Shut up, it was not!”Bookmark here

But he caught my fist… He moved his hand down to wrap his fingers around my wrist… His fingers easily wrapped around my slender wrist.Bookmark here

“Ren, are you an idiot!? You are being killed! Seriously, no human can endure that amount of strain. The high-demanding workload in that amount of time… Ren, what are you saying!? You aren’t fine!”Bookmark here

“Bailey…”Bookmark here

But one call of my name was enough to calm me down… I looked up at Ren in question. He looked at me with an expressionless but worried face.Bookmark here

And… he looked deadly serious. He wasn’t saying anything, but he was telling me not to complain any further… But why? It’s for your sake, so I should shout louder!..Bookmark here

“Bailey… Look, you do not need to worry… I brought this upon myself, and I wouldn’t choose to do something if it was impossible…”Bookmark here

He gently let go of my wrist, and I let my arm fall to my side.Bookmark here

“The truth is, I want to go home as soon as possible…”Bookmark here

My mouth slightly opened in surprise.Bookmark here

“B-But…”Bookmark here

But Ren quickly turned from me and started walking to his destination… But it’s odd because something like this never happens. Ren never leaves in the middle of a conversation, and he heard that I was about to say something… Bookmark here

“Oh, and Bailey… I have one request…”Bookmark here

He wasn’t looking at me, so he didn’t see me step forward in anticipation.Bookmark here

“W-What is it?”Bookmark here

Anything… Ren, you can tell me anything that’s troubling you.Bookmark here

“Um… You exchanged contact info, right? Um… Please tell Camryn that our departure is at noon…”Bookmark here

“S-Sure…”Bookmark here

And when I agreed, Ren continued walking away from me… Bookmark here

Tell Camryn that we might leave at noon? Why couldn’t, or why didn’t he want to do it himself? Bookmark here

Oh, I guess I was so caught up in his problem of overworking that I never asked Ren a majority of my questions — dammit! Why did he want to go home as soon as possible? What happened last night? What does he think of Camryn now?..Bookmark here

I want to ask these questions, but after that encounter and abruptly ending the conversation, the thought of doing so seems harder… Why?.. Because suddenly, these topics seemed sensitive to him… Bookmark here

Um… So, I really shouldn’t pry. I guess I’m really inexperienced with these types of things, and I’m scared of what the consequences would be if I messed up…Bookmark here

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