Artem's Sweet Chapter 02-06

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Take a Break: West Hemingway Heights Street
Stellis Hemingway Heights
Misc Location - Restaurant 4 (Day).png

You can't work on an empty stomach.

Artem takes you to the restaurant you ate at last time, and the both of you order your meals.

While waiting for your meal, you are distracted thinking about Ronan.

Suddenly, you feel something warm in your hands. It's Artem passing you a wet towel.

Artem: Still thinking about Ronan?

You: ...For some reason, I get inexplicably nervous thinking about the meeting between Ronan and Lamont Russo...

You: ...Will Ronan be okay?

Hearing that, Artem understands what you meant.

Artem: Are you worried that Ronan, who has finally pulled himself together, will fall into despair again after meeting Lamont Russo?

You: ...Yes.

You: When I saw Ronan's notes, I knew how difficult it was for him to make the decision he did... That's why...

You: Artem, am I not supposed to think this way?

You look at Artem, somewhat dejected. Perhaps your thoughts are disrespectful to Ronan.

Artem's hand fixes the scattered hair on your forehead, but they slip through his fingers and land beside your ear.

...You can feel his warmth through this simple interaction.

Artem: No, it is the greatest recognition of all.

Artem: You believe so firmly in his kindness that you care about how he feels.

Artem: ...Why though?

You: Hmm? Why what?

Artem: Why do you care so much about him? Do you sympathize with his experiences?

Looking at Artem's curious eyes, you sort your thoughts and explain.

You: Well... to be honest, that's part of it, but it's mainly because of you, Artem.

Artem: Because of me?

You: You said that he used to be like you, that you want to help him... So I can't help but expect the same things from Ronan.

You look at Artem in embarrassment.

You: Is that arrogant of me to say...?

Artem shakes his head, smiling.

Artem: The fact that you can say that proves you aren't arrogant. On the contrary, you respect Ronan.

You: Still, even though I respect Ronan's choice... I don't understand why he made this decision...

You: With this notebook, we just need to wait for the police to investigate the clues, and there will be a breakthrough.

You: Under these circumstances, what is Ronan clinging to?

Artem muses for a moment before giving his answer.

Artem: Maybe... to atone for his sins, as he said.

You: Atone?

Artem: Yes, not just for what he did, but maybe for who he was.

Artem: However, I believe his atonement started a while ago if you consider his legal aid account and his notebook...

Artem: Those prove that Ronan tried to preserve the good part of him so he could get a brief respite.

You think about Ronan's confession in his notebook.

You: The amount of remorse he felt...

You sigh, finally understanding the reason behind Ronan's decision.

You: Ronan wants to bid farewell to his former self by standing up to Lamont Russo.

You: He must have been very determined.

You: Let's hope the afternoon operation goes well so Ronan can forgive himself a little...

Artem: Yes. I hope so.

During the conversation, your meals arrive.

You take a sip of the black tea to quench your thirst.

You: Eh?

You: Why does this black tea taste different from usual?

Light and fragrant—the way you like it.

You subconsciously look at Artem, who is staring at you with a smile.

You: (Could it be...)

Artem: I added a remark when I placed the order. What do you think of the taste today?

You: It's delicious.

You: (We only came here once, and Artem has nailed the restaurant's flavor...)

You can't help but sigh, looking at Artem.

You: I think I still have room for improvement in terms of loving you...

You: ...I'll work on loving you even more.

Artem: ...

Artem is taken aback, then he smiles brighter than the sun in spring.

Artem: I will work on that as well.

After the meal, you have regained your strength.

Artem: Are you tired? Want to take a nap in the car?

You: I'm okay. I'm getting psyched up about Ronan...

Just then, a message from Captain Morgan comes through.

Artem: They're already on the move. Let's meet them near Lamont Russo's compound.

You: Let's go.

Key Evidence: Southeast Stellis Street
Lamont Russo's Residence
Lamont Russo's Residential Building
Misc Location - Bedroom 1.png

Cooperate with police to monitor the conversation between Ronan and Lamont Russo.

You and Artem arrive at the familiar residential building and head to the unit number Captain Morgan gave. After knocking on the door, Captain Morgan lets you two in.

It is an apartment near Lamont Russo's residence. Inside the room, several officers are busy at work.

There is a listening device in the center of the coffee table, and a technician is fiddling with the settings.

Darius Morgan: This unit has been converted into a homestay, the most suitable location for close surveillance that the police could find on such short notice.

Darius Morgan: The undercover police operation was successful. He posed as property management and installed a listening device in Lamont Russo's home.

Captain Morgan hands you and Artem a pair of earphones.

Darius Morgan: Now it's up to Ronan.

A group of people is gathered around the listening device, waiting for Ronan to show up.

Shortly after, you hear Ronan's voice over the headset.

Ronan: Professor Russo, the police came to talk to me today.

There is no emotion in Ronan's voice, only calm.

Lamont Russo: What did you say?

Lamont Russo's voice quickly followed, sounding relaxed.

Ronan: I did exactly as we had planned. I didn't say anything.

After Ronan finishes, Lamont Russo doesn't immediately respond.

You look nervously at Artem, who was staring intently at the audio band on his monitoring device.

Soon, you hear a smile in Lamont Russo's voice.

Lamont Russo: I don't know what plan you're talking about.

Ronan: Understood... Professor... As for Fiona, you won't hold her accountable, right?

There is a subtle tension in Ronan's voice, and you react by clenching your hands together.

You: (Will Lamont Russo notice?)

Lamont Russo: I won't hold her accountable if she hasn't done anything illegal.

You: (Oh no... Lamont Russo has his guard up.)

Ronan falls silent.

Artem frowns, waiting.

Ronan: I hope you will make good on your promise. I... have evidence of your illegal activities.

Hearing this, the atmosphere in the monitoring room becomes tense all of a sudden.

However, Lamont Russo's tone remains unchanged.

Lamont Russo: Oh? How did I not know that?

Ronan: You may have monitored my electronic devices, but you know that's not a foolproof solution, right?

Ronan: Otherwise, you wouldn't be here negotiating with me.

Lamont Russo seems dumbfounded as the silence halts the conversation once more.

But when his voice sounds, the hearts of everyone in the room tightens.

Lamont Russo: Strange... You would never admit it to me...

Lamont Russo: You were afraid I'd find evidence... What's going on with you today...

You hold your breath as the voices fade.

Suddenly, you hear the loud friction of clothes rubbing, followed by the sound of bumping into furniture.

After a clear smashing sound, you hear Lamont Russo's voice again.

Lamont Russo: Even you're plotting against your professor...

Lamont Russo's breath grows unsteady for the first time, but the gloating in his voice sends shivers down your spine.

You: (Ronan's voice recorder has been discovered...)

You can't help but look at Artem. His hands are clenched into fists, visibly more nervous than you are.

You stroke his arms to console him, and he shakes his head to signal that he's fine.

Ronan: Professor! Don't be stubborn!

Ronan cries out without warning. Stripped of his voice recorder, Ronan's breathing becomes more erratic, and even his voice is trembling.

You close your eyes at Ronan's sudden outburst.

Lamont Russo: Stubborn? Ronan, let me tell you, you're the one being stubborn!

Lamont Russo seemed to be caught up in Ronan's emotions, his voice becoming louder.

Lamont Russo: I detest attorneys who call themselves agents of justice! Hahaha, what agents of justice...?

Lamont Russo: There's no such thing as justice in this world.

Lamont Russo: Only money! Only money is eternal!

Lamont Russo's anger pierces your ears.

To hear such horrible words from your former professor... you take a deep breath.

Calming down, you look at Artem.

You: ...

Artem sits there motionless, as if he has become a statue.

Expressionless, Artem's face is gloomy under the light. You see a hint of sadness.

Before you can do anything, Ronan speaks again.

Ronan: ...Professor, look at you now. You're like the devil.

Lamont Russo: Hahaha, listen to you. You've been with me for more than a year, and you're still saying such naive things.

Lamont Russo: It seems I haven't taught you enough.

Ronan: Y-You've... taught me things I'll never forget!

Lamont Russo had pushed the right buttons. You hear the sound of Ronan grinding his teeth, but Lamont Russo seems to be enjoying himself even more.

Lamont Russo: No, it's not enough! How can I let someone as smart as you only falsify and destroy evidence... Everything has been done superbly.

Lamont Russo: I blame myself for being too soft and getting you involved too late. Otherwise, how could you dare to rebel against me?

Artem gives his tie a hard squeeze.

Ronan: Getting involved too late... How many other students do you have under your thumb?

Lamont Russo: I can't tell you. Even if they've left Stellis University, they are still my helpers, my obedient dogs.

You and Artem exchange a look, and you see the repressed anger and pain in his eyes.

Lamont Russo: Ronan, you're such a bad dog. What a shame, I thought you'd make the best hunting dog ever.

Ronan: Professor Russo, aren't you afraid that I already gave the evidence to the police?

When Ronan says this, the atmosphere in the room darkens. Captain Morgan motions for two officers to go upstairs and monitor, just in case.

Lamont Russo: Save it—what evidence could you possibly have? The blade at the bottom of the lake or the clothes burnt to a crisp?

Lamont Russo: Do you expect the police to fish through the whole lake on a rumor? Do you know how much that costs?

Lamont Russo: Captain Morgan won't be able to apply for an operation of that size!

Darius Morgan: ...

You: (Professor Russo, you've incriminated yourself.)

Ronan seems to be defeated by Lamont Russo's words and doesn't respond.

Lamont Russo: Ronan, do whatever you want. But we're done here.

Lamont Russo: See yourself out.

After confirming Ronan left, Captain Morgan has officers in plainclothes take him back to the station.

And he takes the rest of the squad to invite Lamont Russo for a trip to the station.

Darius Morgan: I need to go now. Here's the key, leave whenever you want.

You: See you later, Captain Morgan.

You sit down beside Artem, who has been silent for a long time.

From what Lamont Russo just said, the whole story can be deduced.

Everything is basically what Fiona said in the article: Lamont Russo exploited his students, coerced Ronan to commit a crime, and even engaged in illegal activities himself.

You: (Except.. the truth was more brutal than what was described in the article.)

You let out a deep sigh and put your hands over Artem's hands.

You: Artem, are you okay?

You: (Artem was pleased when Ronan volunteered and decided to help the police solve the case.)

You: (But now...)

Artem hasn't said a word ever since Lamont Russo showed his true colors,.

Artem: I'm okay.

Your words interrupt Artem's thoughts, and he takes your hand, trying to smile warmly.

Artem: Don't worry, I'm not forcing myself. After all, we were expecting this, right?

You: Then why do you look so solemn right now...?

Over the past few days, you and Artem have investigated the case, and you know the concern he showed for this teacher-student relationship.

Artem thought the duo deserved praise and wished them good luck.

However, even when the truth was ominous, Artem still did what he could to salvage it.

There's no one who understands what he's feeling right now more than you.

You: Knowing something in your heart and hearing it are two different experiences, right?

Artem no longer pretends to smile, looking at you with fatigued eyes.

Artem: Yes.

Seeing this, you lean on Artem's shoulder, wanting to give warmth in this way.

Artem takes your shoulders so you fall entirely into his embrace.

You can feel yourself being desperately needed by him.

You: Are you sad?

Artem: Yes.

His chin rests on the top of your head, and his low voice reaches your ear.

You: I knew it.

You put your arms around his waist and snuggle closer to him.

Artem: But I'm not disheartened. It's just... a physiological phenomenon that takes time to digest.

Artem's voice is calm while explaining his feelings, as if he's afraid you are too worried.

You: I understand. Me too... I'm here to help you digest this physiological phenomenon.

There is no wavering or confusion between you and Artem... only sadness.

You know that there are no words to ease the sadness at this moment.

Just a silent hug.

Artem: Let's not delay any longer. Ronan is still waiting for us at the police station.

You: Yes.