Chapter 2: Mask
How many days had passed since I opened my eyes?
I didn't know. Time seemed pointless in my little glass world. Occasionally, I would see other living beings walking past me. Who were they? That didn't seem to matter anymore. They never bothered to talk to me.
I was alone.
I wondered if there were others like me.
Others beyond my glass world
Crow raised her brow after Seri finished fashioning the strange, ninja-looking mask on her. "There! All done, Crow! You look pretty mysterious! In this way, there is no way that strange men would bother us because of your pretty face."
"Seri…" Min-suh growled while covering her face in one hand in embarrassment. "Why is this necessary? Couldn't we wait until we're out of the airport? People are staring at us."
Seri rolled her eyes. "Psh. Stop being such a wet blanket. She looks perfect. And the mask covers her neck too. It's too warm in this weather to be wearing a turtleneck so this should do in covering that nasty scar on her neck. She's self conscious of it, you know."
"Did you even buy the mask?"
Min-suh slapped her forehead. Great. They just came to Korea and Seri was already taking things without buying them. Ahem, "borrowed" them.
"Crow? Are you going to wear that all around Korea?"
Crow glanced at her reflection in a nearby glass. It was a bit transparent, but she could see the effect the mask made on her face. The mask also looked as if it was connected to her short-sleeved, black shirt. If she were wearing black pants instead of the jeans she was currently wearing, she would've looked like some thief. She pulled her hair back and tied it up before looking again.
She liked it.
Seri squealed in glee. "This is perfect! I knew that a Kakashi-styled mask would suit you perfectly, Crow."
"…Kakashi?" Crow asked. In Japanese, that name meant 'Scarecrow'. The irony made her smile a little. This 'Kakashi' was probably a character in those manga series that Seri read frequently.
"Yeah! You know, from Naruto!"
No, she didn't know. But, to satisfy the childish girl, she nodded as if she understood. Min-suh shook her head in despair. "You do know that this will attract more attention than preventing it?"
"So what? We can always beat them up if they try anything funny."
"NOONA!" Min-suh was suddenly attacked with hugs from a certain duo. She was thrown back and all four ended up in a pile. Seri crossed her arms. "Oh. Now who's making a scene, huh?"
"Guys! You shouldn't attack Unni like that just when she got home!" Yuna scolded the two boys but they didn't care. Min-suh playfully pushed Shinwoo away. "Got off you big oaf. You got a lot heavier since I left."
Shinwoo pouted and then grinned when she messed up his hair fondly and got off of her.
Ik-han bawled into Min-suh's shirt, making it all wet with the amount of tears that fell from his eyes. Min-suh would usually throw a fit when her clothes got all messed up but she didn't care at the moment. She wrapped her arms around her cousin and hugged him tightly. "Shhh, what did I tell you about crying, Ik-han?"
"T-That boys sh-shouldn't cry. It m-makes them look we-weak, like a g-girl." Ik-han stuttered helplessly while trying to wipe the tears from his face. Seri delicately plucked the glasses from his face and began cleaning them with her shirt. "Your cousin is a cute one, Min-suh. Why didn't we visit Korea sooner?"
Ik-han stared at Seri. Although he didn't have glasses on, he could see Seri's appearance. He blushed furiously when she put his glasses back onto their usual perch. She smiled kindly at him and offered her hand. "Hi, my name is Azrael Serena Lo…Loshire. It's a pleasure to meet you, Woo Ik-han."
"Y-You know my name?" His stuttering isn't from crying now at least, Min-suh thought in amusement. It was quite obvious that the bespectacled boy was quickly forming a crush on the albino. The woman's smile turned into a disapproving frown when she realized that he liked Seri of all people. "Of course, Min-suh told me so much about you, Shinwoo, and Yuna. Oops," she covered her mouth with mock horror. "I was supposed to call her Unni, wasn't I?"
"Yes Seri, yes you were." Min-suh sighed.
An outstretched hand came into Min-suh's line of sight. She looked up and her lips twitched upwards into a small smile before it disappeared all together. She took the hand graciously. "Thank you, Headmaster Lee. Long time no see. You haven't aged a bit since I left."
Frankenstein smiled politely. "Thank you, Min-suh. It's delightful to see you again."
Min-suh noticed the unfamiliar student beside him and nodded in greeting. "Nice to meet you. You must be Cadis Etrama Di Raziel." She said in a perfect accent. Frankenstein looked at her in faint surprise and it was genuine. Min-suh laughed a little at his expression. "I do my homework, Frankenstein. Seri told me everything." She told him in fluent German.
Frankenstein immediately switched off to the language she was speaking. "So you're aware of the current situation?"
"Very much so."
"I've heard about your…transformation."
"Is it really that surprising? I thought Seri told you everything."
Frankenstein nodded. "Yes, but the way you gained your abilities are…peculiar."
"Does that really matter? It's not like I'm completely human anymore, no matter how I gained the abilities, am I?" She asked dryly. Frankenstein smirked a little at that. "No, you're not."
Crow quietly stood back from the happy reunion in silence. She leaned back against the wall and just…watched. She wasn't one to be amiable toward strangers like Seri.
"Hi!" Crow looked up, a bit startled. The brown haired girl (Yuna, was it?) was right in front of her with a bright, warm smile. "It's nice to meet you! My name is Yuna! What's your name?"
"…Crow." Her voice sounded slightly melodic, with the exception of a few cracks at the end. Yuna wondered if this mysterious woman was some singer or celebrity. Is that why she's wearing a mask?
"Oh. That's a pretty interesting name! How old are you?"
"…Twenty five." Crow lied.
"That makes you my Unni, huh?"
Yuna blinked in surprise at the abruptness of the stranger. Seri swooped in just in time before any misunderstandings occurred. "Yuna, right? I guess you got acquainted to Crow. She can't speak that much because of an accident that ruined her voice. It hurts her throat when she speaks so excuse her if she seems like she doesn't want to have a conversation. She actually enjoys it when people talk to her."
Crow resisted from touching her throat. It was a habit that she created ever since she got the injury. Min-suh did as best as she could to fix it. Crow was at least thankful that she could use her voice even a little bit.
"That makes sense." Yuna said, relieved that the stranger didn't mean any offense. "I'll try to ask yes or no questions from now on then, Miss Crow."
"That's fine." Crow attempted to assure the girl with her limited words. At that moment, Shinwoo shoved his face in front of hers. "What's with the mask, huh Ajumma?"
Ik-han jabbed his friend roughly at the side. "Don't call her that! She's not that old, you know! She said she's only twenty five!"
Shinwoo sheepishly rubbed the back of his neck. "Oh. Sorry Miss."
"…Don't mind." Crow assured them.
Ik-han blinked in surprise. Usually, women in their twenties or younger would throw a fit if they were called 'Ajumma'. That honorific was reserved for the women in their late thirties or older.
Seri smiled proudly when Shinwoo brought up the mask. "Do you like the mask? I put it on Crow after we got off the plane."
"Why does she need to wear a mask?" Ik-han questioned curiously.
Min-suh finished her German conversation with her old headmaster and answered for him. "She's a bit self-conscious of her scars so she covers up her neck. We would usually use a turtleneck but the weather right now is a bit too warm for that. Seri just happened to have that ridiculous mask."
"Like…it." Crow insisted.
"I think it looks cool, Miss!" Shinwoo claimed with a thumbs up and the others (aside from Rai and a certain silver haired loner) agreed.
Crow smiled a little but she doubted that they could see it with her mask in the way. She glanced at the last person that neither of the trio had been introduced to. He, like her, was leaning against the wall with arms crossed. He wasn't really paying any attention to what was happening. He kept a good distance away from the group as if he didn't belong.
His silver hair reached to about his chin and a bang covered his right eye. Crow was suddenly reminded of a wolf when she looked at him. She couldn't put her finger on it, but he brought memories of the time Seri dragged her into a zoo and showed her the wolves. The cautious eyes of the wolves when they stared at her wearily behind the glass was eerily similar to the stranger's silver eyes when they looked at her and her friends.
Crow was then struck with a feeling as if she met this man before.
That couldn't be possible. She had no memory of meeting this man. She didn't even know his name!
Seri followed Crow's gaze and caught sight of the man. "Hey Crow, he's good-looking for a guy, isn't he? Want me to bring him over?"
Crow blushed furiously at what Seri was implying. That was not what she was thinking! But, alas, she couldn't say all of that with her limited speech so she shook her head simply.
Seri, misunderstanding Crow's refusal to the idea as embarrassment, winked at her and bounced over to him. "Hi! Name's Seri! What'cha doing standing here all by your lonesome?" The man blinked in surprise at Seri's sudden appearance. She took his hand and "lightly" tugged him toward the group. "Join us!"
The man let out a small sound of surprise as Seri easily dragged him toward the group as if he wasn't resisting. The group immediately accepted him into their conversation.
Min-suh tensed up for a brief second when the stranger appeared in her line of sight before composing herself. "And who is this man?"
"Ajusshi here is going to be the school's bodyguard when we get back." Shinwoo explained while pointing to the awkward man after telling Min-suh about the murder incident.
It wasn't surprising that she was alarmed and immediately concerned when she heard about this but was calmed down when Ik-han assured her that the culprit committed suicide.
"We took care of everything." Frankenstein assured her in German. "And don't worry about the fellow over there, he won't harm the children."
Min-suh internally relaxed at this piece of information.
That man wouldn't hurt the children.
That was enough for her.
Min-suh turned and smiled at the bodyguard warmly. "Thank you very much for taking the duty of looking after the children, Mr. Bodyguard. They mean very much to me."
Shinwoo, Ik-han, and Yuna looked moved by Min-suh's apparent gratitude to the silver-haired man and he himself was a little surprised by her sudden mood change toward him.
Seri broke the sentimental moment mercilessly. "Crow is going to be a bodyguard of the school too! Isn't that great? She might look like a normal girl, but she's pretty dangerous when someone tries to pick on Min-suh or me!"
What is she talking about? Looking normal? She's wearing a mask! Everyone thought simultaneously but coughed instead of speaking aloud.
"That's great, Ajumma! I think I feel safer already!" Shinwoo said with a supporting smile.
"Please look after us, Miss Crow." Ik-han said.
"We're happy to have you." Yuna told her.
While the kids surrounded Crow, M-21 escaped from Seri's surprisingly strong grasp and walked back to his corner. He then looked at the strange trio with suspicious eyes.
It didn't escape M-21 that the girl who called herself Seri was abnormally strong for a young human her age.
Min-suh smelled normal but there was just something off about her.
And that masked woman…
He felt that she was the most suspicious out of the whole bunch. Why would she be wearing a mask? M-21 had a feeling that she was lying about her scars.
M-21 flinched when the woman named "Crow" took her hand out of her pocket. She held it out and waited patiently as he looked at her cautiously. There was something in her hand.
What is that thing? A bomb? Did she know about my suspicions and plan to silence me already? M-21 panicked internally.
"…Candy." Crow told him simply.
Seri smiled proudly at Crow.
Min-suh, in the other hand, slapped her forehead.
"Crow...it's great that you're trying to be friendly to your future job-partner, but he's not like those five-year-old children back at home."
Finished! Hopefully I made the characters more likable in this chapter.
Suggestions and Criticism are welcome!