The La-Iin Series
“Mamaaaaa….where are we going? I’m tired…”
“You wouldn’t be tired if you had listened to me. And I told you an hour ago. The Sanhuuns invited us to spend a night with them, and they told us to meet them downtown. Cheer up, alright? Fer-Shi will be there.”
“Being a goody-goody, I bet.”
“What do you think? The Sanhuuns, especially Den-Matsu, are a little infamous for their good deeds around Bledger. They’re pacifists, peace lovers, any good name you can find probably applies to them. Which is why I’m surprised you’re friends with their daughter in the first place.”
“Fer-Shi is a special goody-goody. She has all the qualities of a loyal slave. ….though her company isn’t too bad either.”
“See, I knew it. Now, if you’re really tired, I could always carry you–”
“Mama, we should have a car. We could drive here and I could sleep in the car. Why don’t we have a car?”
“Because it’s too expensive. Also, Bledger is a very walk-friendly and fly-friendly place. You said it before, your favorite method of transport is flying. And you do like being held by Asul-Zenza, may I remind you? I’ve seen you let him hold you before.”
“That doesn’t have to do with anything right now….Dami isn’t here and I’m too tired to fly. And we don’t have a car but you have a computer? What priorities.”
“I need the computer for some things. And like I said, we can walk, and you can fly. I offered to carry you.”
“Is it that you can’t drive or something?”
“I can drive! I just prefer not to. It’s actually inconvenient to drive in Bledger, if you ask me. We hardly have any defined roads here….”
La-Iin glanced up. They were blurry because of the distance between her and them, but she saw Den-Matsu, Tei-Sheu, and Fer-Shi standing nearby a building. Den-Matsu waved.
“Hello, Den-Matsu! Tei-Sheu! Fer-Shi!”
“Hello!” Den-Matsu said.
“Greetings!” Tei-Sheu said.
“Hello, Miss Cahongyun! And hello to you too, La-Iin!” She was smiling as she always did, though it dropped once she saw La-Iin’s face. “Are you tired or something? Did you not get enough sleep?”
“What does it look like?” She spat. Mit-Sun, Den-Matsu, and Tei-Sheu began to talk above them, but La-Iin focused her ears on Fer-Shi’s words.
“Oh….what kept you up so late last night? It’s not like we have school on Saturdays…”
“Things.” Fer-Shi bowed her head and started to look meek, as if La-Iin was glaring at her, though La-Iin couldn’t tell if she was instinctively glaring or her eyes were drooping. “Fer-Shi, do you know where we’re going today?”
“Oh! Mom and Dad said they were gonna take us all out to eat somewhere, and then we’re gonna walk around downtown a little! Me and Mom thought Dad wanted to do something like this anyway. He was talking about seeing you mom again a lot recently!”
“I don’t understand why anyone would want to see Mama.”
“Well, my Mom and Dad haven’t seen you and your mom in a while. They’ve been busy. And that hasn’t just affected seeing friends…” Fer-Shi glanced away from La-Iin, a melancholy expression on her face, before gasping and shaking her head. “Of course, they took time off after the Malicerie incident!”
Den-Matsu, Tei-Sheu and Mit-Sun started to walk ahead of the two girls. Fer-Shi tapped La-Iin’s shoulder and pointed it out, and the two girls began to follow their families.
“I think the worst thing about the Malicerie incident was the smell. Or maybe me having to call the police. No, it might have been that San-Kyung got sick…I don’t even really know what happened to him after that.”
“Well, he was at school yesterday, so it couldn’t have been anything bad. Some of the students have been coming to school kind of spotty lately…one day they’ll be there and the next they won’t. Shan-Zetsu only came to school once after the incident…”
“I’m almost curious as to what it was like for the other classes.”
“Well, I don’t really know. I know the worst injury happened in Class D, so it shouldn’t have been anything too bad. Also I think most of Class A is suspended right now, and they were in jail during most of the incident…”
“If anyone deserved that happening to them, it was Class A. Although there are certain people I wouldn’t mind seeing tied up again…”
Fer-Shi glanced up at her parents. “I’m glad they’re not paying attention to our conversation…my Mom and Dad are thankfully blissfully unaware of most of the evil things you think.”
“Is that so. Well, don’t warn them for all I care. It’ll make it that much more fun to see their reactions come a couple decade’s time.”
“We’re almost there, you two,” Den-Matsu said.
“Alright!” Fer-Shi replied. “Are you still feeling awake, La-Iin? Can you stand?”
“Of course I can. I wouldn’t be walking if I couldn’t, would I?”
Den-Matsu and Tei-Sheu stopped in front of a small building in a corner of downtown. “Here it is!”
“It’s tinier than I expected.”
“It may be tiny and out of the way, but this place is bustling on the Weekdays. We don’t eat out all that much, but sometimes Den-Matsu comes home late from work. Whenever he’s going to I always give him the money to come here.” Tei-Sheu said.
“The prices may look daunting, but don’t worry–I made a lot of money this week. That includes you, Fer-Shi.”
“Are you sure, Dad?”
“Yup! I’m sure. Pick whatever you want. I’ll be able to afford it. And we should still have enough money left over to take care of necessities!”
“If you say so…”
“I oughta order the most expensive thing on the menu just to spite your Dami.”
“Don’t do that! Besides, usually the more expensive something is, the more it’s made for refined tastes….”
“I have refined tastes.”
The two girls continued to converse as Den-Matsu reserved a seat and led the group to their table.
“You said this place is bustling normally. Where is everyone? Or is that only during the day?” Mit-Sun asked.
“Oh, it’s not that it’s bustling all the time.” Tei-Sheu said. “This is a popular place to go on the Weekdays. Not as much on the Weekends. People who work late come here. And it’s not open very many hours during the day–only the late afternoon. It is open all seven days of the week, but it tends to be deserted on the Weekends…”
“Which is why I thought it was the perfect time to bring along you and La-Iin! It’s like everything fell into place just perfectly. I managed to make more money than I normally do, I have free time on my hands, and it’s the Weekend, so one of my favorite restaurants is almost deserted. As convenient as it can be on the Weekdays, it can also get so crowded that you end up waiting upwards of a half-hour just to be seated, let alone actually eat.”
“If it was a bit closer to you, I’d definitely recommend it. ….speaking of, where do you work again, Mit-Sun? I know it isn’t close, but–”
“I work for Eteibreit Data Storage. Part-time only. It was the best job I could find that would get me home before La-Iin comes home from school….well, it helps me do that most of the time, anyway. But my boss is atrocious…I miss the job I had before I had La-Iin. Not that I regret having her, of course!”
“I don’t think either of us thought that,” Den-Matsu said.
“Have you ever considered letting her father watch her?”
“He’s taken her against my will sometimes. Maybe some people would see my reasoning as petty, but I can’t stand him. I guess I could have done worse. He could have been abusive, or demanded that he take care of La-Iin or that we stay in a relationship. He could’ve been an atrocious person. But also, I could have done better. I just still can’t believe I was planning on marrying that guy! He can be self-centered at times and he tends to drop by randomly to visit her…which is annoying to me, if I’m being honest.”
“Even though you talk about him so coldly, I’ve always been interested in meeting him,” Tei-Sheu said.
“Well, I’m curious to hear his side of the story. Of course I think your take is perfectly valid. But I’m curious all the same. And if he isn’t a bad person, I don’t see the problem in letting him see her every now-and-then…”
“What, Den-Matsu? I was just saying what I thought.”
“I know. And I don’t begrudge you for that. But…” He dropped his voice to a whisper. “Something tells me we should drop this subject before she gets upset…and I mean moreso than she already is.”
Den-Matsu, Tei-Sheu and Mit-Sun turned to their menus. La-Iin and Fer-Shi were sharing one between each other.
“Apparently this place is styled after international restaurants!” Fer-Shi said.
“That explains the decor.”
“I didn’t think you were the type to look at decor…”
“I’m not. But it’s kind of hard to miss something like decor.”
“I guess! So, do you know what you want to get?”
“I always know. These places are too easy.”
“Really? I’m still having a little difficulty deciding….this is why I like eating at home better!”
By the time the waiter arrived, however, all of them had decided what they wanted to eat.
“Dad, are you sure it’s going to be okay getting things on the more expensive side?”
“I told you, Fer-Shi, it’ll be fine! It’s not like all of us ordered the most expensive thing on the menu. Now that would be hell….er….oops.”
“Oh Den-Matsu….” Tei-Sheu sighed.
“La-Iin, are you falling asleep?” Mit-Sun whispered. La-Iin’s head was bobbing up and down. She stared at her mother with an expression that answered her question. Mit-Sun sighed. “Wake up some more, alright? It’d be rude to fall asleep on them….”
“Why is she so tired, Miss Cahongyun? She wouldn’t tell me.”
“She stayed up all night playing video games,” Mit-Sun said as she rolled her eyes. “I could barely get her out of bed today. Thank goodness it’s not a school day…”
“That happens to you too sometimes, Fer-Shi!” Den-Matsu said.
“I don’t own any video games…”
“No, I mean the sleeping in on the Weekend thing. You always look so cozy that I can’t muster the heart to wake you up most of the time. It’s hard.”
“Do I?” Fer-Shi’s cheeks flushed.
“Stupid….” La-Iin mumbled. Fer-Shi sighed.
“I think once you have a baby, it’s only natural that you think they’re cute.” Tei-Sheu sighed. “Ah, I still remember when Fer-Shi was a baby….”
“I don’t mean to pry….but I’m curious. Do you two think you’ll ever have more children?”
Den-Matsu and Tei-Sheu glanced at each other, as if communicating the answer. Fer-Shi focused her attention on them.
“Hm….well, I don’t know, really.” Den-Matsu said.
“I always wanted to have multiples, but I wanted to have them close enough together so that there wasn’t a big age difference. But we just didn’t talk about it after Fer-Shi….so I don’t know.”
“And we’re getting older. Plus Fer-Shi’s eight now. Not too far away from ten. At least to me, it’s like one of those things you think would be nice, but you wonder if it would be for the better. I mean, how would that change things in our family? How would that baby feel hearing about these things he or she doesn’t remember? How would he or she feel about the age difference between them and Fer-Shi, or them and us? I guess what I’d have to say is…I don’t know.”
“It’s a hard thing to think about. But really, we are fine with just Fer-Shi, and we’d be just fine if we had another little bundle of joy. But the question is, is that something we want to try for, or something that would be better off, if it happened, being a happy accident?”
“Happy accident?” Fer-Shi asked. “How do you have an accidental baby? I never got that.”
Den-Matsu and Tei-Sheu looked at each other again, and their cheeks quickly flushed. “Er….we’ll explain it to you later.”
‘Well, that changes how I think of them a little,’ Mit-Sun thought.
“Wh-what about you, Mit-Sun? If you ever got in a relationship again, do you think you’d want to have more children?”
“Not really. I might be willing if he wanted to have kids, but then I already have La-Iin, and she’s enough of a handful. She could easily turn a younger sibling into a parrot, I bet. And I’m not really thinking of dating again, after what happened with her father…I think it’s out of the question. If she ends up with a half-sibling, it’s her father’s fault, not mine.”
“Wake up, La-Iin…” Fer-Shi whined.
“I am up,” La-Iin said, though her eyes were nearly closed completely.
The waiter arrived and placed the food in front of them. La-Iin’s face smashed into hers.
“Wake up, La-Iin!” Mit-Sun yelled. La-Iin glanced around in surprise and stared down at her food. “Oops.”
“La-Iin, you shouldn’t stay up so late playing video games!” Fer-Shi said. La-Iin was about to question her, then noticed Mit-Sun out the corner of her eye. She glared at her.
“Oh, this food is good!” Mit-Sun exclaimed.
“It is, isn’t it?”
“Eating good food in a cozy place like this…I love it. And it’s getting late. The part of downtown I want to walk around should be almost deserted too. Ah, I feel so relaxed!”
“Don’t get too relaxed or else you might fall asleep too!” Tei-Sheu said.
“I feel bad for ordering one of the more expensive meals…” Fer-Shi said.
The mood around the table was cheery as the two families ate. When they were done, Den-Matsu handled payment and the leftovers of his wife, daughter and La-Iin. He then beckoned to the girls to follow him out the restaurant.
“The best thing about going out is walking out the restaurant!” Fer-Shi said.
“The chilly night air! I don’t know, I just like it!”
“What about if you leave a restaurant at day?”
“Um…I don’t know!”
“Where are you taking us, Den-Matsu? You never did tell me…” Tei-Sheu said.
“You’ll see. It’ll be a surprise!”
“Does he normally do things like this?” Mit-Sun asked.
“If you mean leaving me out of a surprise, then no…the only surprises he keeps from me are the ones he needs to keep. Normally, I guess…this is an exception.”
Den-Matsu led the way past a bustling night crowd and closer to the entrance of the downtown Bledger area. He led them down a narrow path.
“This is kind of scary!” Fer-Shi said.
“I like it.”
Finally, he stopped in an open clearing.
“What’s supposed to be here?” Mit-Sun asked.
“Can you tell me now, sweetie?” Tei-Sheu asked.
“Is it time-delayed?” Fer-Shi asked.
“Is it anything worth my time?” La-Iin asked.
“Just wait….give it a few seconds….”
Fire whirled into the sky and swirled in a pattern. Fer-Shi and La-Iin gaped.
“It’s AP Fireworks. A lot of downtown Animated Pumpkins seem to like to practice their fire powers in flashy ways. It’s kind of like normal fireworks, but there’s a charm to it. I saw it once by accident. I wanted you girls to see it too.”
“It’s beautiful. Thank you for showing us, Den-Matsu.” Tei-Sheu said. She held tight to his arm.
“It’s not a problem. Maybe one day we should come here alone with Fer-Shi. Or maybe with just the two of us?”
“How can you be gagging at that when you say gross things yourself?”
“They’re being sappy goody-goodies. There’s a difference between them and me.”
“What di–oh, never mind. Just watch the fireworks!”
Both girls focused their attention back on the fireworks. Each for a different reason, everyone in the group enjoyed watching the fireworks as an end to their day.
“You know, Tei-Sheu….”
The couple was walking back home. Den-Matsu carried Fer-Shi, who had fallen asleep on the way.
“About having another kid…you’re right, we should just leave it at if we have a happy accident. Maybe it’s mean, but…I really don’t want to father a kid with a personality like La-Iin’s.”
“I agree. Although, you know how I am, and you know how you are. And Fer-Shi ended up awfully similar, even when she did make an evil friend. What makes you think we’d have an evil child?”
“Nothing, really. But you never know…”
Tei-Sheu couldn’t help but giggle a bit at her husband’s words.