The La-Iin Series
“A Nest for the Two”
“Remind me again why we’re going house hunting?” Mali-Ana asked.
“Have you been spaced out this entire time? Helping Cou-Riette find a place ring a bell? I mean, come on, she’s right in front of us!” Lishe-Ashyo said.
“I know that! I just don’t really get why she’d do all this now!”
“The sooner I can get out of that home, the better,” Cou-Riette said, glancing over her shoulder at the two. “I’d ask another Fasoucie, but most of them stay with us, and the ones who don’t live all the way in Wiencei. Not to mention most them hold grudges against me for his birth. There’s really no place I can stay, and I refuse to intrude on anyone else.”
“It is just me and my Dad, you know…he wouldn’t judge you,” Mali-Ana said.
“Just let her do this, Mali-Ana,” Lishe-Ashyo said.
“Yes, please. I won’t move out of Bledger, if that’s what you’re worried about.”
“I’m not worried about anything relating to you!” Mali-Ana said. Cou-Riette sighed. “Er! Um….you misunderstood that, okay!? Don’t get the wrong idea!”
“Geez, you’re more worked up today than usual, Mali-Ana,” Lishe-Ashyo said.
“Besides, it’s not as if I can move now,” she said. “The Fasoucies do have a lot of vuyong, yes, but since his egg was laid, I haven’t been given any of it. And do you really think my parents would be willing to fund what’s essentially running away from home?”
“Well, they might be willing to. You said they didn’t like you any more…”
Cou-Riette bowed her head.
“Er, sorry, Cou-Riette.”
“It’s fine. It’s also true. There isn’t a thing I can do about that, except keep looking. I need a way to keep a steady income, a place we can stay, someone to watch him as I work…”
“That’s an awful lot for an eighteen-year-old to think about,” Lishe-Ashyo said. “I wish you were just thinking on college and your other plans.”
“Well….I still am, of course. College will just have to wait a little until he’s older. I’m not going to be selfish, and all the colleges in Vaelyn won’t magically disappear over the next decade either. I have time.”
“You deserve more free time,” Mali-Ana said.
“I’d love free time. But I don’t trust most of my family with An-Tois and now is not the time for such things. So let’s keep looking.”
Lishe-Ashyo and Mali-Ana looked at the houses they passed by as Cou-Riette walked ahead, giggling as An-Tois pulled at her hair.
“Yeesh….you have expensive taste, Cou-Riette.”
“Huh?” Cou-Riette glanced at them over her shoulder, then looked at the houses. “I don’t think they’re as expensive as they look. Although…I suppose I wouldn’t know.”
“Do you even know if any people live in these houses? There’s no point in scoping out a potential place to live if somebody lives there,” Mali-Ana said.
“Most of the houses along this row are up for sale. I know that much. And even if people do live here, there’s no guarantee they will when I can finally buy a new house. I guess the opposite applies as well, but supposedly, not many people wanted to live here after a fatal brawl happened. This was also a war site during the Vaelyn War…”
“Yeah, I can see why people wouldn’t want to live here,” Lishe-Ashyo said.
“Why would you!?” Mali-Ana asked.
“Well, it’s cozy here,” she said. “Besides, the lack of people who want to live here now means we’d likely be safe! Unless there’s maniacs living in the few occupied houses, of course.”
“How reassuring,” Lishe-Ashyo said.
“Don’t be sarcastic with me, Lishe-Ashyo. It was my best idea….”
“I know, I’m sorry,” he sighed, putting up his hands as if he were guilty of something. “I just worry, Cou-Riette. I’ve been worried for you ever since An-Tois was born. I want you both to be safe.”
Cou-Riette heard Mali-Ana grunt at his words, but she couldn’t suppress a smile. “Thank you. I know you’ve been. And you’ve been very supportive of me this whole time. I might even call you my closest ally….alongside Mali-Ana, Gen-Reiya and Xhen-Wu, of course! Heh heh….but thank you.”
“No need to thank me for worrying,” he said. “I would even if you got mad at me for it. There’s just a lot for you to think about, vuyong-wise. I mean, there’s a lot for you to think about that’s not related to finances, but I mean…you have to get enough vuyong for a house, you have to have enough money to feed both you and him, the money for furniture, diapers, other necessities…you’ll need to have a means of steady income, but also someone to watch over him while you’re gone, or work someplace where there’s a day care or something…it stinks, really, because the Fasoucies seem loaded, at least to me. You having to think about so many–”
“Lishe-Ashyo!” Mali-Ana snapped. Lishe-Ashyo noticed Cou-Riette, her head bowed.
“I…I’m sorry, Cou-Riette…”
“It’s fine, Lishe-Ashyo. It’s food for thought. Just depressing to hear you voice my fears aloud….but, I’m not as worried about it as I was before. Because honestly, staying in the Fasoucie house would be a lot worse. Having to debate if I have enough vuyong to buy something or what I’m going to do with An-Tois as I work sounds like nothing compared to being scorned by my parents and consistently worrying that they’ll do something to An-Tois as I sleep. So even though I have all these worries on my mind, the sooner I get out of the Fasoucie house, the better.”
“I understand,” Lishe-Ashyo said. “Sorry I said all those things, though.”
“Not a problem. And Mali-Ana, you don’t have to get mad on my account. I’m not upset with him.”
“Well, I am,” she scoffed. “What he said was tacky. But…I agree, it’s probably better if you get out of the Fasoucie house soon. Hearing what you’ve said, that makes sense. Remember, um…I mean, I’d have to ask my Dad, but if you ever run into bad problems, the Reusung house welcomes you.”
“Same with us Coulmetas, though I don’t think my parents would be as chill as Mali-Ana’s dad…”
“Thank you both for the offer,” she said. “But unless I’m desperate, it won’t come down to that, I’m sure.”
An-Tois started to coo and struggle slightly. Cou-Riette giggled. “You want to be inside, don’t you, An-Tois? Don’t worry, we’ll stop looking at all this boring stuff soon. Lishe-Ashyo, Mali-Ana, what do you say we pick up the pace?”
“Sure!” Lishe-Ashyo said. He, Cou-Riette, and Mali-Ana started to walk at a faster pace as they observed the houses in the neighborhood.
“Do you have a crush on Cou-Riette?” Mali-Ana’s tone was accusatory. Lishe-Ashyo laughed. “No! Where’d you get that idea from?”
“I…I just…you’d just stress her out if you liked her, you know.”
“Stop being so jealous.” He put a hand on her head.
“Don’t worry, Mali-Ana. Your chance still exists!”
“Say anything more and I’ll make your face look like a fist.”