Nathan was walking down the streets outside of Haven Hotel.
Behind him was Amir who just put away his phone.
"Cuz, the car service will arrive here in about 20 minutes to take you back to the apartment."
Nathan continued walking, making his way through the people passing by.
"Cuz! Cuz, wait! We should wait here."
Nathan stopped and turned around.
"I'm looking for a spot to smoke."
He resumed walking and Amir continued following him.
A couple of minutes later…
He found an alley.
But before entering he checked the sides if there were any police officers nearby.
He saw 2 officers a dozen meters away having a snack.
He entered the alley and pulled out a pack of cigarettes and lighter.
He lit a cigarette.
"Cuz, you should get that hand of yours checked in case of infection."
Nathan ignored Amir's advice and offered him a cigarette.
"I'm good," said Amir.
Nathan stared out in the streets, looking at the people passing by.
He blew out a handful of smoke.
'Why did I fucking do that?'
'Ugh… I just want to run away and hide…'
He let out a deep sigh.
'My emotions got the best of me…'
'And I'm seriously going to get fired…'
'But what was I supposed to do…?'
'All I want is just some peace and quiet in my life…'
'This was supposed to be my day off but here I am wasting it with people…'
'Ugh… I can't lose this job…'
'Should I beg for forgiveness or stand my ground…?'
He face-palmed himself.
'I wish I could go back in time and undo what I've done…'
'I wish I was just the only person in the world…'
All of a sudden, a man hidden in the alley emerged and approached Amir and Nathan.
"Hey, man. Can you spare a stick?"
Nathan turned around to see who it was.
It was a homeless man about 30 years old.
"Fuck off, trash! If you come near I'll kick the shit out of you!" said Nathan.
"Sorry, man," the homeless man said and quickly returned to where he emerged and disappeared.
"Cuz, that was uncalled for," said Amir.
Nathan looked at Amir for a moment and then scoffed before resuming smoking.
In his mind, people like that homeless person were nothing but useless humans.
That person was still around 30 years old and didn't look disabled so he should be able to get a job.
Giving him would only encourage him not to get his life together and stand on his own two feet.
'I work my ass off and trash like that just want to ask for free things? Do I look like a masochist who enjoys slaving myself to work just to give free stuff to people? Fucking lazy people like that might as well just commit suicide!'
A few minutes passed and Nathan finished his cigarette.
He lit another one.
"Cuz, about what happened back at the hotel, don't worry about it. Kaab had it coming. You'd be surprised by how many people don't like him. Uncle Kaaf is also well aware of his behavior. I'm sure things will work out just fine."
Nathan continued smoking in silence.
A minute passed.
"By the way, cuz, the hospital that I work at is offering free therapy," said Amir.
"You can visit there once a week."
Nathan looked at him and raised an eyebrow. "What are you trying to say?"
"Cuz, I know what it feels like to be in a new environment. It's a weird feeling and it changes you. I remember when I first arrived here in Womania. It took me about 4 months before I finally got over my homesickness. What really helped me at that time was talking to a therapist and meeting new people."
Nathan laughed. "What the fuck? Look, cuz, I don't need someone to tell me what and how should I feel nor do I need the company of others to be happy. I'm not that weak and desperate, let alone crazy."
Amir frowned. "I'm serious, cuz. You know, I've met a lot of patients in my time as a nurse. Talking to a therapist can help you open up more."
Nathan frowned as well. "Open up? Cuz, do you see me judging or telling you how to live your life? Look at you, when you're not working, you spend most of your time chasing women. You're a fucking sex addict. And plus, last I heard, nurses aren't psychologists."
"That's how you see me? Someone who only cares about sex?"
Nathan closed his eyes and massaged his forehead.
That momentarily burst of emotion was an accident. He really didn't have any intention of getting into a fight with Amir. But the emotions he had earlier back at the party still hasn't yet completely dissipated within him.
'My God… This is the problem with people. Why can't they just leave me alone and mind their own business? Is it so hard to ask for some peace and quiet? That's all I fucking want.'
He opened his eyes.
"I'm sorry. I didn't mean to say it like that. What I meant was everyone has their own desires."
"You think I have it easy?"
"Look, I really didn't mean to say that. So just drop it, okay? I'm sorry."
"Listen --" Amir tried to grabbed Nathan's collar.
But as soon as he was about to, Nathan dropped his cigarette and struck him in the chin with his right palm.
Amir fell on his butt and was in a daze.
Nathan was dumbfounded.
'What the hell…?'
The strike he just did wasn't even that strong. He was only able to use about 50% of his strength because of his wound.
Moreover, Nathan himself wasn't a professional fighter or a trained soldier and was nowhere close to be considered as a good fighter.
Yes, he fought before and there were fights that he won and also fights where he lost. However, most of the fights that he won were through sneak or surprise attacks so it's hard to say if he could really win in a fair fight.
However, looking at Amir, he couldn't help but suspect that this cousin of his probably never got into a physical fight before in his entire life.
He tried to recall some of his memories about Amir before he and his family migrated to Womania.
'Well… come to think of it…'
He always felt weird hanging out with Amir when they were still young.
Aside from the fact that Amir was 2 years old than him, the people that he hangs out with were too classy for him that he couldn't relate with them.
One time, he played outdoor basketball with Amir and his friends. And before they started playing, they put on lotion.
Sure, he understood that they were concerned about getting sunburned or whatever, but at least do that in private.
Realizing what he did, Nathan felt extremely guilty.
"Cuz, I'm sorry," he said as helped Amir get up.
Amir was massaging his chin as he was pulled up.
"That was the 3rd time in my entire life that someone punched me."
Nathan was again dumbfounded. It wasn't even a punch. It was a poorly executed palm strike.
"I'm really sorry about that," said Nathan.
"No, it's fine. I was being annoying."
"No, no, no. I understand that you were just trying to help."
Nathan lit another cigarette.
"Cuz, I know you have your own experiences and I can only imagine what it feels like to be in your shoes. But I too have a lot of shit on my plate," said Amir.
"I know," Nathan said as he stared a young couple passing by.
"No, you don't. What I'm trying to say is that my life isn't just all sunshine and rainbows. I mean, whenever anyone sees me, all they see is my face and my father's money and thinks I'm just this happy-go-lucky guy without a care in the world."
Amir chuckled. "You may be surprised to hear this but father and mother are actually disappointed in me. They wanted me to be a doctor, lawyer, engineer or something worth bragging to their friends. To them, I'm nothing but an errand boy for doctors."
"Well, at least they have Aena to fulfill that dream."
Nathan looked at Amir but he still didn't say a word.
"And just between you and me, there have been times that I actually contemplated suicide before. But thanks to the help of my therapist and my friends, I managed to suppress that urge."
Nathan looked away and resumed staring at the people passing by.
He never expected Amir to have such thoughts.
'What the hell...'
In his mind, there are some people who genuinely need therapy because of some life-changing event that they've experienced or they're currently dealing with.
However, at the same time, going to therapy has also become nothing more than a hobby that rich people like to do.
Because of that, he sees therapy as a hobby for overly sensitive rich people.
As for whether he needs therapy or not, to him, although he wasn't a saint or anything, he has never gone through any severe trauma.
His relationship with his parents? Is there even such a thing as a perfect family?
His experience with women? Who hasn't experienced any heartache and rejection?
What happened to Maaz? Who hasn't been screwed in life?
Of course, what happened to Maaz was too severe. However, the main idea of getting screwed over by others is something that everyone experiences in life.
His work life? Who doesn't hate their job? Anyone who says they love their job is either a liar or not earning that much because once money is involved, it changes things.
To Nathan, those things were just part of life's struggles that everyone deals with.
The important thing is whether that person can learn from those experiences and adapt to a new mindset in order to conquer those obstacles.
With that, he strongly believes that there was absolutely nothing wrong with him because he was simply playing the game of life and doing his best to survive while operating under the established rules.
There was no need for him to go to a therapist or whatsoever.
It's not like he murdered someone or committed a heinous crime or anything.
And plus, he didn't want to be somebody else's guinea pig.
He was already slaving himself to his job.
That alone is already humiliating enough.
'But if he really does have suicidal thoughts, then…'
Amir's phone suddenly buzzed.
He pulled out his phone and checked it.
"The driver has arrived. He's waiting in front of the hotel."
Nathan flicked his cigarette away before walking back.
Amir put his phone away and followed him.
They walked in silence.
Amir massaged his chin and said, "I think I may have to sue you if you can't get any girls anymore."
"I doubt that would even happen," Nathan said with a smile.
"Jokes aside, I really think you should consider going to a therapist. I can recommend you to the therapist I'm seeing. He's a really wonderful and talented person."
Nathan let out a sigh and said, "No offense, but I think people who have never experienced any severe trauma and goes to a therapist are... well... weak."
"None taken. Well, there are also support groups if you want."
"Still the same."
"Okay. How about I set you up with a hot therapist? I know a few who would be willing to get 'personal' -- if you know what I mean," Amir said and flashed a lewd smile.
Nathan laughed and then said, "Like that woman named Hae-won?"
Amir laughed as well. "Unfortunately, she's a pediatrician."
"Ah… I see."
"You like her? Can't blame you. She's really a good person. One of the nicest people I've ever met in my entire life."
"As a matter of fact, one time, there was this 10-year-old kid diagnosed with cancer at the hospital. The insurance company stopped paying for the treatment and the parents ran out of money as well. Hae-won then secretly donated money from her own pocket for the treatment to continue. She didn't tell anyone about it. Even the kid's parents don't know who the money was from. No one knows about it except me."
"Heh~ Really now."
"Don't worry, cuz. I wouldn't mind if you decide to pursue her as well. All is fair in love and war."
"You know, I've been trying for years to get through her, but she just isn't interested. I'm even starting to suspect she's probably a lesbian. But I doubt it because I've dated women who identified as lesbians before. And let's just say I've converted them," Amir said with a triumphant smile.
'Perhaps it's because she's a racist?' Nathan thought. "Just go for another woman then. Problem solved."
"Or maybe I'm just not her type. Perhaps she prefers someone like you," said Amir.
They walked in silence for a minute or two before Amir started talking again.
"Cuz, are you by any chance afraid of women?"
Nathan stopped and looked at Amir with an are-you-serious expression.
Amir stopped as well and said, "I mean, I get that some people would be intimidated by a woman like Hae-won but --"
"Oh fuck off," Nathan said and resumed walking.
Amir resumed walking as well and said, "Cuz, I didn't mean to insult you or anything. The point I'm making is --"
"Look, cuz. I'm not intimidated by Hae-won or anything. I'm just a realist and I'm a busy person. I don't have that much time and energy to spend on chasing women all day."
Amir placed his arm over Nathan's shoulders, "Sure, Mr. Responsible," and then pointed, "Take a look at that chick over there."
Nathan looked at the woman Amir was pointing at.
It was a 23-year old mixed-raced woman who was at least an 8 in terms of looks walking with her boyfriend.
"See the guy she's with? If you're gonna ask me, I would say you're way better-looking than him."
Nathan looked at the guy.
It was a short and chubby Asian man in his early 30s and was quite fashionably dressed.
Amir continued, "Those who lack the knowledge and experience would automatically assume that the reason why a woman like her is with someone like him is because he's rich or whatever negative thing they can think of to validate their jealousy. I'm going to tell you based on my experience that that isn't the case. That guy right there is a genuine ladies' man."
Nathan brushed Amir's arm away and said, "I could care less."
"My point is, it's not about looks or money. It's all about confidence."
Nathan didn't say anything and just rolled his eyes.
"Okay, I know it sounds cliche. But just try to think about it. How come there are guys in this world who, despite having the looks and money, still can't get the girl that they really want and only end up being bitter?"
"Look at me. Not to brag but I'm well aware that I'm good-looking. However, even I got dumped and had my heart ripped apart a couple of times. And as you already know, I'm currently even struggling to get through Hae-won."
"You see, it's all about confidence. Women could smell whether a man is really confident with his own skin or just pretending. And to build real confidence is going out there and hone your skills in talking with women."
Nathan was about to tell Amir to just drop it once and for all because he really doesn't care about this PUA stuff when suddenly a small person bumped into his leg, causing him to stop.
The small person fell on their butt.
Nathan looked at the person who bumped him.
It was a 10-year old Caucasian girl with black hair and big emerald eyes who looked like a porcelain doll.
His eyes widened in horror and he gasped.
He immediately stepped back and raised his hands up in the air.
The last thing he wanted to be accused of hurting a child.
"Alice!" a woman cried out.
Nathan looked at the woman who cried out.
The woman was also a Caucasian with black hair.
She was around in her late 20s, very beautiful and her features were similar to the kid.
Beside her was a blonde-haired Caucasian man in his early 30s and had a military air on him.
'I guess this is the father?'
Both of them were coming over.
Still raising his hands, Nathan quickly said, "I'm very sorry. I swear to God I honestly didn't see her. It was all an accident."
The woman pulled the kid up.
Meanwhile, the man said, "No, no, no, it's us who should apologize. She had too much sugar today. Sorry about that."
"Alice, what do you have to say?" said the mother.
"I'm sorry, mister," the kid said.
"We're very sorry for causing you trouble," the mother said and shot a quick glance at Amir.
"It's okay," Nathan said and resumed walking.
Amir didn't say anything and continued following him.
When they were a couple of feet away, Amir said, "That was one hell of a MILF."
Nathan rolled his eyes. "Why didn't you pick her up then?"
"Cuz, you may think of me as nothing but a sex addict but there are things that I would never do. One of them is sleeping with married women."
Nathan thought about how pathetically weak Amir was in fighting and that man that the MILF was with.
"Anyway, so back what I was talking about."
"Cuz, I know you're passionate about those things. But I'm not," Nathan said with a slightly irritated tone.
Sensing it, Amir decided to drop it and said, "By the way, if uncle Kaaf fires you, which I doubt would even happen, I know some friends that could give you some writing gigs. Perhaps even Brie could help you. You could be a screenwriter or something."
"We'll see about that."
Screenwriter? Nathan doesn't know anything about screenwriting.
A few minutes later, they finally returned to Haven Hotel.
There was a chauffeur waiting beside a car near the entrance.
Nathan went over to the car and opened the door of the backseat.
And before he entered, Amir stopped him.
Nathan stopped and turned around.
"If you ever decide that you want to see a therapist, just tell me, okay? I'll introduce you to the best ones I know. Or you can just talk to me. Many have said that I'm a great listener."
"Yeah, whatever. I'll see you later back at the apartment," Nathan said before entering the backseat and then closing the door.
The car drove off.
Inside the car…
Nathan was looking out the window, watching the bright lights and the parades of people walking on the sidewalks.
There was rap music playing on the radio.
The rapper was rapping about how he was slowly losing his mind from conforming to everything imposed by the government and society.
Listening to the song, Nathan recalled what Amir told him and smirked.
'If I'm broken, then the whole world is broken.'
'Everything in this world has a condition.'
'I'm simply operating under the rules established by the ones before me and doing my best to survive in this rat race.'
'It's basic logic.'
He looked down at his right hand.
'One day I will be able to live the peaceful life that I want -- or something close to that.'
'A life where I won't have to always bow down to society…'
Flashback arc end!
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