Chapter 88:

Best Friends

New Leaf!

It’s true… Sure, I’m sorrowful for Camryn’s past. But I just can’t bring myself to make her my top priority… Bookmark here

My top priority is Ren Morales, my goddamn best friend… I’m going to save him… Bookmark here

“Camryn?”Bookmark here

“Yeah. You know, the girl you met a month ago. The girl you took in a month ago… The girl that was homeless…”Bookmark here

I stared deeply at Ren’s anticipating face… Honestly, my face is scarier than usual, but that’s the point — it just shows that I’m dead serious.Bookmark here

“The girl… that you saved…”Bookmark here

He suddenly slammed his hands on the table and stood up.Bookmark here

“I don’t know anything about her!”Bookmark here

I pinched my chin with my thumb and index finger.Bookmark here

“Oh, you’re so worked up when you’re usually so stoic. I wonder why…”Bookmark here

I stepped forward, but I managed to keep my calm behaviour.Bookmark here

“Hey Ren, you wanna elaborate?”Bookmark here

“The girl ran away from me… But it’s whatever! That girl is just a homeless stranger that I was showing decency to! Why should I care about her!? We’re not related or anything. Why should I care!?”Bookmark here

“Oh, so angry… But whatever…”Bookmark here

Anger… Like how Valerie did, you’re using anger to protect a decision. But you don’t usually get angry… Then that means… Bookmark here

I shrugged my shoulders…Bookmark here

This decision was forced onto you… Aren’t you using a greater force to protect this because it’s someone else’s?Bookmark here

“You know, it’s funny you say that… Camryn was found.”Bookmark here

As soon as I said that, Ren’s disturbed face slightly lightened up. His jaw slightly dropped, and his back became a bit straighter.Bookmark here

“Hm? Eh, whatever… Right now, she’s under my care…”Bookmark here

Ignoring the illogicality of this? How strange.Bookmark here

“I see… Well, I’m glad she’s okay…”Bookmark here

“Yeah… And she’ll be much safer… when I send her to the orphanage…”Bookmark here

“What!?”Bookmark here

Ren suddenly got out of his seat and walked up to me. He stared at my seemingly proud smirk in disbelief.Bookmark here

“W-What did you say?”Bookmark here

“Eh?”Bookmark here

I raised my voice.Bookmark here

“Are you deaf or something? I said I’m sending her to an orphanage!”Bookmark here

There’s no doubt that Camryn developed some hostility towards these types of facilities.Bookmark here

“Well!?”Bookmark here

“No! You should-”Bookmark here

But Ren stopped when he suddenly turned around.Bookmark here

“What!? Is the orphanage just not the ideal place? Well, how about the homeless shelter? Maybe a soup kitchen? Or maybe we should just send her to the police! I-”Bookmark here

Ouch… I was suddenly stopped when Ren swiftly spun around and punched me in the nose.Bookmark here

“No, don’t!”Bookmark here

“Eh!?”Bookmark here

“I…”Bookmark here

But Ren slowly lowered his fist and turned around again, looking at the ground.Bookmark here

“S-Sorry, Connie… I don’t know what that was just now…”Bookmark here

So energetic a moment ago, but so meek-sounding and professional right now… I tilted my head and covered where he punched me.Bookmark here

“It’s just that… Well, she might be resistant if you send her there. You see, I suggested bringing her to those types of places when I first met her, and she disagreed…”Bookmark here

“Eh? Who gives a damn about that?”Bookmark here

He propped his head up.Bookmark here

“It’s for her own good!”Bookmark here

I raised my voice again.Bookmark here

“As you said, we shouldn’t care about her! You know, just show that decency by sending her there and nothing else!”Bookmark here

He quickly turned around again and punched me.Bookmark here

“Oof, that seriously hurt Ren… But why the hell are you getting so worked up for, huh!?”Bookmark here

He was aggravated.Bookmark here

“As you said, she’s just a homeless stranger! You hear me!? She’s a weakling! An abandoned failure that no one wants! A freak! An idiot! A reject! A monster! Why the hell should we-”Bookmark here

But another punch disturbed me.Bookmark here

“Shut up!”Bookmark here

So powerful… Another punch to the face — the force knocked me down to the floor.Bookmark here

He mounted me and started rapidly punching me in the face.Bookmark here

“Shut up! Go to hell! Go to hell, go to hell, go to hell, go to hell, go to hell, go to hell, go to hell, go to hell, go to hell! Go to hell!”Bookmark here

I stared at him through the blood in my eyes… His eyes were seething with rage. His teeth were pressed together in fury. He held up another fist, and it was clenched with madness.Bookmark here

He then slammed his hands beside my head.Bookmark here

“Shut up!”Bookmark here

“And why?..”Bookmark here

“Because none of it is true! Yeah, you’re just spewing nonsense! Idiot!”Bookmark here

Another punch.Bookmark here

“You haven’t spent the past month with her, so you don’t know a damn thing!”Bookmark here

Another punch.Bookmark here

“You don’t get to say anything!”Bookmark here

Instead of a punch, Ren sat up straight and wiped his eye.Bookmark here

“Dammit… She’s not a freak! She’s not an idiot! Nothing about her is monstrous! Why the hell would you say something so mean and so wrong about an awesome girl like her!”Bookmark here

He gripped his right shoulder with his left hand.Bookmark here

“She… She’s none of the things you said! She’s scared… but she’s brave! She’s hopeless… but she’s cheerful… She’s weak… but she’s so goddamn strong! She’s trying her hardest, and that’s what makes her a remarkable person… So why did you say those things!?”Bookmark here

And Ren suddenly winced and screamed in pain… He quickly got up, gripping his right shoulder with his right hand again.Bookmark here

“R-Ren?”Bookmark here

“Dammit!”Bookmark here

I slowly sat up…Bookmark here

I watched as Ren stumbled back in pain. He then threw his coat off and ripped off his right shirt sleeve…Bookmark here

And there it was — my eyes widened as I saw it… On his upper right arm was a large scar… So red… So wide… So long… So… knife-shaped.Bookmark here

“Ren!?”Bookmark here

“Why’d you have to give me that request!? Take full responsibility for the girl… Dammit Connie, why!?”Bookmark here

He spoke to me through the immense pain. He leaned towards me while gripping the scarred shoulder.Bookmark here

“You don’t know… You don’t know, but I’ve been through hell because of you! Every day, my arm hurts! Whenever she talks to me, it hurts! Whenever she gets near me, it hurts! Heck, whenever I even see her, it hurts! That girl’s been nothing but a pain to me!”Bookmark here

But I saw Ren straighten up, look down, and clench his arm harder.Bookmark here

“But even so… Even though I should get the hell away from her, w-why do I want her so bad!?”Bookmark here

Awe spread on my face. I tilted my head.Bookmark here

“Why do I always think about her? Why am I always anxious when I don’t know where she is? Why was I so sad when she ran away from me? It makes no freaking sense!”Bookmark here

A fully got up.Bookmark here

“Connie… Please help! I don’t know what I’m thinking anymore… and I’m so scared!”Bookmark here

I walked up to him and he turned to face me. And there it was… his tearful face, among the uncertainty in his face.Bookmark here

“Connie?”Bookmark here

I softened my voice a bit, but I still sounded slightly tense.Bookmark here

“You love her… and you feel good when you’re with her… But at the same time, you feel you should hate her… and you want to feel terrible when you’re around her…”Bookmark here

“Yes…”Bookmark here

“Well, one sensation obviously outweighs the other!”Bookmark here

I put my hands on his shoulders…Bookmark here

“Am I right? When you’re with her, your arm stings while you smile widely. And when you’re away from her, your arm feels fine, but you’re frowning… Bookmark here

I was sounding desperate now.Bookmark here

“Please! Really think and tell me the truth, Ren!”Bookmark here

“Er…”Bookmark here

“Ren!”Bookmark here

I was supposed to sound angry, but I got emotional.Bookmark here

“Ren?”Bookmark here

“Yes! It’s true!”Bookmark here

Chance…Bookmark here

“Then tell her that! If that’s the truth, then let her know that! You need her… and no one will stop you! Please, love and care for her with all your might! If she lightens every aspect of your life, then keep her! Because you love her… And it’s because she loves you!”Bookmark here

Bookmark here

I lost my composure… But oh well. Honestly, how am I supposed to focus on anything else? This is my greatest chance… To be real… To feel a connection… To get my best friend!Bookmark here

Silence… But after a moment, I broke from Ren.Bookmark here

“Um… Bailey’s bringing Camryn here tomorrow…”Bookmark here

He was still looking down, but I couldn’t see his face. But I saw that his right arm was twitching. He was in pain, but he was not acknowledging it.Bookmark here

“Um… Camryn will be worried if he sees you like this. So you should get some sleep and take a shower… And don’t worry, Bailey called work for you and said you might be absent…”Bookmark here

“Okay…”Bookmark here

His voice was so low… Despite screaming earlier, it sounded like a mumble… Bookmark here

But that’s all I could do right now… If I tell him anything further, I fear things will change. This realization has to be caused by him, and only him — I only supplied a little push.Bookmark here

Although my face stung due to punches, I slowly walked to the exit.Bookmark here

But I turned around again.Bookmark here

“Oh… And good night, Ren.”Bookmark here

“Yeah… Good night, Connie.”Bookmark here

I slowly turned around and started to walk again…Bookmark here

But I stopped for a second before I continued walking. And, a smile of hope was on my face.Bookmark here

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