Artem's Sweet Chapter 02-13

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Lineage of Faith I: West Hemingway Heights Street
Stellis Hemingway Heights
West Hemingway Heights Street
Stellis - Hemingway RPG Map.png

There's a familiar figure standing in front of the police station.

You and Artem encounter Fiona, who is about to leave the police station.

Fiona: So, we meet again.

You: Did you... see Ronan?

Fiona: Yes, I already know everything. The next time I see him... will probably be in a courtroom.

Fiona seems to be a little dejected, her eyes red, probably from crying just now.

You: Don't worry. Ronan was coerced into committing a crime. He turned himself in and tried to atone for his crimes. The judge will take that into account when deciding on his sentence.

Fiona manages a smile.

Fiona: I know. Thank you very much.

Fiona: I'll wait for him.

Fiona nods at you two and leaves without saying anything else.

Watching her leave, your heart is filled with disappointment.

You: Fiona was forced to send Ronan to jail to save him from a quagmire.

You: Perhaps it is truly difficult for everyone to get a happy ending in the real world.

Suddenly, you feel something warm in your palm as Artem takes your hand.

Artem: It's not the end of their story yet, is it?

You: Oh right! They still have us!

Lineage of Faith II: West Hemingway Heights Street
Stellis City Police Department
Meeting Room
Stellis Justice Dept - Interview Room.png

Find Ronan at the police station.

Ronan smiles when he sees the two of you. His face is still pale, but he looks like a completely different person.

Ronan: What other questions do you have for me?

Ronan: But this time, I really have nothing else to say.

Ronan even cracks a witty joke.

Artem: If all goes well, the investigation will be over soon.

Artem: Your notes pointed the police investigation in the right direction, and that recording was a powerful piece of evidence.

Artem: Lamont Russo's crimes will no longer be covered up.

Ronan: I have to thank the two of you for that.

Ronan: I was afraid that if these things came out, I would lose everything.

Ronan: I was terrified of disappointing my parents, losing my reputation, and going to jail. More than anything, I was afraid that I couldn't be an attorney anymore.

Ronan: Fear blinded me, so I was unable to see the right path.

You: Thankfully, Fiona was there with you.

Hearing Fiona's name, Ronan smiles bitterly.

Ronan: I feel sorry for her. I was naive in thinking that I could protect her from Lamont Russo...

Ronan: But... I'm glad she was there to force me to see reality.

Ronan: I realize now that... what really pains me is the trial within myself.

Artem: Is there a verdict now?

Ronan nods gently.

Ronan: I'll accept whatever the verdict is.

He looks up at Artem with mixed emotions in his eyes.

Ronan: For some reason, I really want to apologize to you, Mr. Wing.

Artem: Apologize to me?

Ronan: Yes, I didn't respect the profession or the code of law enough.

Ronan's eyes show bitterness, looking at Artem's eyes with such longing.

Ronan: I cannot become an attorney anymore, but...

Ronan: Mr. Wing, I've always admired you. Attorneys are too close to evil... It must have been difficult... to keep your faith and not deviate from the right path after all this time.

Artem: Being close to evil does not necessarily mean you will commit crimes. The key is to have faith in the law.

Artem: It's unfortunate... Lamont Russo didn't teach you that.

Ronan: The realization came too late.

You: It's not too late!

Watching Ronan sink into low spirits, you interrupt him.

You: Fiona said she'll wait for you. You'll have a new life!

Ronan is stunned, touching his nose in embarrassment.

Ronan: Thank you two.

Lineage of Faith III: West Hemingway Heights Street
Stellis City Police Department
Outside the Police Station
Stellis - City Street (Day).png

Lamont Russo seems to be waiting at the police station entrance.

Outside the police station, you and Artem encounter Lamont Russo, who is just getting out of a police vehicle.

Lamont Russo also notices the two of you, his eyes sharp.

You: (Lamont Russo looks completely different from before.)

Artem walks in front of you, blocking Lamont Russo's line of sight.

Walking past, you peer at Lamont Russo from the corner of your eyes.

His hair is still neatly combed. He wears a tidy suit and walks upright with a calm demeanor.

All to maintain his dignity and pride.

Artem: Professor Russo, my mentor once said something that resonated well with me.

Artem: I'll share it with you now.

Artem does not look back at Lamont Russo, but his voice is still polite.

Artem: Without faith, the law will die and be only a tool.

Lamont Russo: You had a good mentor. Too bad he's gone now.

Lamont Russo immediately responds to Artem, who doesn't bother to look back.

Hearing this, Artem's grip around your hand tightens.

You: (Everyone knows that Artem respected Professor Hume. Lamont Russo is doing it on purpose.)

You: So what if Professor Russo is still around? The next time we see him, it'll be through an explosion-proof glass.

Lamont Russo: Hmph.

Lamont Russo doesn't respond and walks into the police station.

Disappearing into the entrance, Artem still has a tight grip on your hand.

You can't help but shake his arm, trying to pull Artem back to reality.

Artem: Sorry, did I hurt you?

Artem just realizes what he was doing and looks at your hand with concern.

You: I'm fine. I'm not made of glass.

Artem: Just now...

Artem wants to say something, but can't find the words to explain what happened.

You cut him off, not bearing to see him like this.

You: Professor Hume will be back. Don't worry, we'll look for him together.

Artem looks down at your hands and caresses the top of them with his fingers.

When he looks up again, the negative emotions have faded from his eyes.

Artem: Yes.

Stop for a Rest: West Hemingway Heights Street
Stellis City Police Department
Outside the Police Station
Stellis - City Street (Day).png

Now that things are wrapped up, get a ride home.

You and Artem walk side by side toward the parking lot.

You: (What did Artem want to say to me just now?)

You: Ouch!

Too distracted, you didn't notice the uneven path, and your high heel gets caught in a gap between the tiles.

Artem: Are you hurt!?

Artem reacts swiftly, immediately stopping your fall.

You shake your head to signal that you're fine.

Artem: Is anything sprained? Can you still walk?

You try walking two steps, a faint pain in your ankles.

You: I'm fine, I didn't sprain anything. I'm great at walking in high heels!

To prove that you're fine, you ignore the slight pain in your ankles and walk forward without Artem's support.

You: Look, I'm completely fine.

Artem: In case there's another accident, let me help you to the car.

Artem looks anxiously at your high heels. Then, he grabs you by the waist and walks alongside you while controlling his pace.

You: (Artem is taking the weight off my ankle so it doesn't hurt to walk on it.)

Without much effort, you and Artem reach the car.

Artem opens the door to the back seat and motions for you to get in.

Artem: It's spacious in the back. Let me inspect your ankle.

You: I'm fine, really... You don't need to inspect it...

Artem's Car
Misc Location - Car Backseat (Day).png

Artem looks at you in disagreement, not wavering. With no other choice, you listen to him and get in the back seat.

Artem follows you inside.

Artem lifts your leg gently and takes off your high heels.

He rests your leg on his own and massages your ankle delicately with his fingers.

You can distinctly feel his warm fingers against the cool skin of your ankle.

You: How is it?

Artem: It's not swollen or dislocated... but there might be a minor sprain.

You: It doesn't hurt when I walk, so I don't think I sprained it.

Artem: ...Are you sure it doesn't hurt?

You: Yes, I'm sure.

Artem's expression softens.

Artem: Sorry, I wasn't paying attention.

You: Artem! Didn't you say... we shouldn't have to say sorry to each other?

Artem: ...

Artem: I'll keep that in mind.

Artem puts your leg down and puts on your heel again.

You twirl your ankle around and find that the pain has subsided.

You: (It doesn't hurt at all...)

You try to get out of the car and move to the front seat, but Artem stops you.

Artem: Thank you... for today.

You: Hmm?

Artem: For so many days, you have kept me company and even had to take care of my emotions during the investigation...

Artem: I remember everything you did for me.

You: No way, you've done way more for me... Also, now that we agreed not to say sorry to each other, you're going to start thanking me instead?

You frown, pretending to be displeased.

You: That won't do!

Artem: ...

Artem: You're right, as always.

Artem makes way for you as he is about to get out of the car, but you stop him this time.

You: Wait...

You: I've been meaning to say, about what Lamont Russo said... don't take it to heart.

Artem stops, looking at you with a warm smile.

Artem: Don't worry, I won't let him affect me.

You feel reassured to hear Artem's promise.

You: Let's go home!

Proper Balance: Artem's Living Room
Artem's Residence
Artem's Residence 1F
Artem's Residence - Downstairs (Night).png

End the investigation and enjoy your rest.

Back at home, Artem responds to some messages on his phone, then prepares dinner.

As you put the case file on the desk, your phone lights up.

A notification appears across the screen: "Mockingbird has a new post."

You: (Artem posted a new review?)

Swiping right to open the news, you realize Mockingbird's latest post isn't a film review.

Mockingbird has forwarded the latest message from Ronan's Legal Aid, commenting:

"One may not reach the dawn, save by the path of the night."

You: (Ronan's Legal Aid account? Does Artem mean...)

From this sentence, you see Artem's willingness to guide Ronan in a positive direction.

You: (But... Ronan has turned himself in as a suspect, and the case is getting a lot of online attention...)

You: (Netizens aren't tolerant of people who knowingly break the law. I wonder if Artem's action will be thankless...)

In the comment section, despite a few extreme comments, most people are expressing regret without exonerating Ronan.

"It's good that he was able to recognize his own mistakes and correct them. Judging from Ronan's Legal Aid, he's a good person."

"It's a shame to see his previous posts, knowing what happened to him. I hope Ronan gets his act together."

"There is no doubt that Ronan paid the price for his illegal activities, but hopefully he will be given a fresh start."

You: (That's true. Law, reason, and emotions are not antagonistic. Artem's actions have allowed netizens to view this matter from different perspectives.)

You: (Artem will be happy to see these comments!)

You lean over the kitchen counter and share the comments you just read with Artem.

You: Look, Mockingbird's latest post is filled with several sensible and kind comments.

Artem looks at your phone and skims through the comments, showing a slightly surprised expression.

Artem: This is... unexpected.

You nod, understanding.

You: (It's the first time Mockingbird has posted something unrelated to films, and it's a sensitive topic at that...)

You: (Artem was prepared to receive backlash.)

You: But it's unexpectedly good, right?

Artem: Yes.

You: Ronan must be able to feel the encouragement from all these people.

Artem: Although Ronan never received proper guidance from Lamont Russo, it's not too late for him to re-examine himself.

Artem's voice is warm and firm, and you can feel he cares about Ronan.

You: (As Artem mentioned before, he saw his former self in Ronan.)

You: It's the first time you've posted something like this under Mockingbird. What special meaning does this case with Ronan hold for you?

Hearing that, Artem looks at you.

Artem: During this time, a question has been on my mind: How much can a person stay the same when their external circumstances change immensely?

You: You mean...?

Artem: "The Ship of Theseus" paradox.

Artem: "If all the original wood on the Ship of Theseus is replaced, would it still be considered the same ship?"

Artem: If we apply this problem to a person, it isn't as simple as the parts and the sums.

Artem: This time, when I saw Ronan again, it was unfortunate that he had changed so much... I've seen this happen too many times.

You: You were worried that... Ronan's not the man he used to be?

Artem: Yes. But in the end, I saw the old Ronan through his approach.

Artem: So I got the answer to that question from him.

Hearing this, you finally understand Artem's emotions.

You: I guess, it's not as simple as getting the answer?

You: (Artem just said he had seen this happen too many times... It seems those other people were unable to find themselves...)

You: The bad influence caused Ronan to lose his sense of self, but he finally found himself...

You: Rather than say his actions gave you the answer, it's more accurate to say it was the answer you were expecting.

Artem is stunned, staring at you for a long time. He then sighs while smiling.

Artem: You... know me better than I know myself.

You: Well, we do share everything!

The kitchen is filled with the delicious aroma of fish soup. With Artem still busy in the kitchen, you read a few more of the comments on Mockingbird.

You: Eh?

Although Mockingbird tends to be serious, the top comments are usually filled with earnest comments or suggestions...

However, there are some comments that "deviate" quite a lot from this norm.

You can't help but read through these comments.

...While there are many comments who call him "hubby," there are even some comments that call him "wifey."

You: ...Pfft.

Artem: Hmm? What is it?

You look up at Artem, who looks confused, not knowing that his "nicknames" have been uncovered.

You: N-Nothing. I was just reading the latest comments for Mockingbird... and saw something interesting.

Artem: ...

Artem doesn't respond immediately and seems to have sensed something from your description.

Just when you thought this subject was over...

Artem: Is there... something you want to ask me?

You: Can I?

Artem: Ask away.

Ask about "hubby" nickname

You: Why do they call you "hubby" when your account name is Mockingbird?

Artem: ...That's just them talking nonsense. Ignore them.

You: Don't you like it? Well, it attests to your great personality as a film critic.

Artem: Bigamy is against the law.

You: They're just joking around. Don't take it too seriously...

Artem chuckles.

Artem: So you know that they're just joking around?

Artem: I'm not concerned about those comments because I don't take them seriously, which means I can't say whether I like them or not.

Ask about "wifey" nickname

You: I saw some netizens calling you "wifey."

Artem: ...I didn't see those.

You: Really? I'll take a screenshot for you. The netizens really love that nickname.

Artem: No, don't. I don't want to see them.

Different from his usual calm, Artem's tone seems stiff and rushed, revealing a rare moment of embarrassment.

You: If you don't like it, you can suggest another nickname for them.

Artem: That will only make them more excited, and they'll call me that even more.

You: (That makes sense!)

Seeing that you are convinced, Artem doesn't continue the subject and focuses on the ingredients.

You: Artem, let me help. Where do you need me?

Artem: It's almost done. Now... I need your help setting the table.

You: Sure! Time to eat!

Artem's Residence
Artem's Study
Artem's Residence - Study.png

After eating, Artem takes the case file to the study, comparing it with files from a previous investigation.

You: Are you comparing Lamont Russo's testimonies?

Artem: Yes, we have a recording of him admitting to falsifying evidence. But with what we have so far, we don't have the complete chain of evidence.

You: You're worried Lamont Russo might use this to clear himself of the charges?

Artem: No, the investigation is still ongoing. With the police's new breakthrough and Ronan's information, it will be hard for Lamont Russo to clear his name.

Artem: Rather than say I'm worried, I want the case to be airtight.

Artem looks at the files in his hands, his eyes deep, as you recall his last conversation with Lamont Russo.

Artem: Without faith, the law will die and be only a tool.

Lamont Russo: You had a good mentor. Too bad he's gone now.

You: (As expected, Artem was affected by what Lamont Russo said.)

Perhaps seeing that you are silent, Artem changes his solemn expression and comforts you with a smile.

Artem: Lamont Russo was clever in his method, but he's bound to leave some evidence behind. I'm confident I can put him away for ten years.

You: (Artem says that so casually, as if telling me to put on a coat because it's cold.)

But... seeing the usual warmth from Artem, your heart relaxes.

You: Yeah! I'll help!

Before you know it, it's already late at night.

The coffee cup beside Artem has reached its bottom. He stands up, coffee cup in one hand, files in the other, as if he plans to work until dawn.

You: Artem... getting a coffee refill at this hour? Are you planning an all-nighter?

Artem looks at you, puzzled. Then he notices the time and realizes how late it is.

Artem: I didn't notice the time... Go to sleep first, I'll sleep once I review the information.

Looking at the thick stack of files in Artem's hand, you shake your head in disagreement.

You: You've been out investigating all day and didn't take a break when we got home. I don't want you working for so long.

You: If you keep this up, you're putting your health at risk.

Hearing this, Artem immediately shifts his gaze from the files to you.

Artem: You must be exhausted after keeping me company the whole day without rest. Don't worry about me and get some rest.

Artem: I'll listen to you and take a break. The review of the information... can wait until tomorrow.

Artem, still not putting down the files in his hands, shows concern for you while forgetting about himself, just as you knew he would.

You: (He always respects my opinion, but that... doesn't mean he'll do it.)

You: (Is there any way to distract him from work for a while?)

You look anxiously at the case files that have seized Artem's complete attention.

You: (What is more important to him than his work?)

An idea suddenly comes to mind.

You: (Pfft... It's a bit unreasonable, but there's nothing more important than Artem's health!)

You lean over and put your arms around Artem's neck.

Artem: What is it?

Artem takes your hand, his warmth passing through his fingers.

You clear your throat, pretending to be serious.

You: Ahem! I just thought of a very important question!

You: Almost every couple has been tested by this question, and only true love can give a perfect answer.

You: As my "hubby," I'm sure you can come up with the perfect answer, right?

Artem is taken aback by that nickname, but he still agrees with a nod.

Artem: Yes, I'll answer earnestly.

Looking at Artem's sincere eyes, you feel somewhat ashamed.

Nevertheless, you boldly ask the questions.

You: Here I go! If those files and I fell into a river, which would you rescue? You can only save one!

Hearing this nonsensical question, a flash of helplessness appears in his eyes.

Artem: If you or the files fell into a river?

You: Yes, all into the river. Don't think too long!

Your unreasonable request causes Artem's expression to become solemn.

Artem: I think that question is based on a false premise.

Artem lifts the files in his hand, then looks at you.

Artem: First, these files will not get anywhere near a river. Second, if you really fell into a river, it's unlikely that I'll be on the bank.

Artem: In short, the premise for that question is not valid from any perspective, so I cannot choose.

Hearing Artem's earnest response, you have trouble trying to remain serious.

You: Pfft...

Artem: Is that your idea of a perfect answer?

You: Close to perfect... for now!

Artem: For now?

You signal to the files in Artem's hand with your chin. His scattered hair sticks to your face, making it itchy.

You: I will announce the final score once you put down the information in your hands.

Artem looks at the files in his hand, immediately understanding what you meant.

Artem: All right. I won't look at them anymore. Let's get some rest.

Artem: At this moment, you are my number one priority.

You: No, that's not right. Your health should be your number one priority!

Artem: Yes, I'll make sure to take good care of myself so that you won't worry.

At long last, Artem puts down the files, and you successfully pull him from his working state. You can't help but tighten your arms around Artem.

You: Congratulations! That was the perfect answer!