1.305.Father Knows Best

The La-Iin Series
Chapter 305
“Father Knows Best”

La-Iin sat on her bed, her expression blanker than usual. She stared at the floor, once at the wall, but she didn’t speak, not even when Mit-Sun or Bes-Isa tried to talk to her.
She wasn’t upset or angry or much of anything. In truth she was only surprised. Her time spent last night with San-Kyung and Dosa-Mina formed strong memories. Thinking back on it was like reliving it–she could see the look of thrill on San-Kyung’s face, the vines entangling everything nearby them, the plants turning a sharp ribbed orange, the small explosions that were occasionally followed by a bloodspatter.
She could see San-Kyung’s red hands, hear his confident laugh, watch him as he went through agony and joy in the same instant–but she could barely imagine him in his true form. Each time she tried to see him with the pumpkin head and ribbed skin he had assumed, she was only reminded of a weak, limp San-Kyung being carried almost princess-style by Dosa-Mina. She could hear his voice, compared to the confident, deep and strong one, now weak and rasping and sounding as it did before his voice had completely changed.
To her, the clearest moment was when they fell. She hadn’t seen all the injuries San-Kyung had sustained from that–the way Dosa-Mina had held him she couldn’t see the side he had fallen on. She had seen Dosa-Mina make hard landings before, so she assumed he could take one such as that fall, but what about San-Kyung?
What was he doing now? How many injuries had he received from the fall? Just how much was he relying on his parents, on Dosa-Mina?
The only thing she could feel that even resembled a feeling was that surprise. But it was strong enough to make her fall silent, and enough to make the situation around her feel unreal.
On Monday, would everything be back to the way it was, with San-Kyung looking as he normally did with his normal powers back? Or would he still be weak, carried by Dosa-Mina to class? Would he be able to attend at all?
La-Iin’s thoughts were going in a circle, and because of that she was unfocused.

***

Mit-Sun sat in the kitchen, feeling unfocused but for a different reason than her daughter. In fact, the reason she felt unfocused was because of her daughter. It was a lack of focus and worry.
La-Iin had come home abnormally late that day–a little after one in the morning. She seemed uninjured, but her clothes were slightly torn near the sleeves. And she was much more quiet than usual. She had Bes-Isa with her, and the same clothes she had worn to school. But she didn’t fly back into the house, and she didn’t talk to Mit-Sun. She didn’t respond when Mit-Sun had broke down crying, asking where she was.
And it was the same when she woke up, much later than she normally did. She only sat on her bed, staring blankly. Mit-Sun was incredibly worried, but even moreso because of the news she had heard on the radio. Something had happened in Bledger that day, an incident where an Animated Pumpkin had suddenly wreaked a great havoc in a neighborhood nearby. Supposedly police had arrived, only to wake up with the perpetrator gone. Not only that, but she had received a call from the Sanhuuns, who told her that Fer-Shi had almost gotten hurt and that she was stunned as well–the difference being that she was actually talking to her parents as opposed to La-Iin.
When she heard it was an Animated Pumpkin committing the crimes, her thoughts had immediately turned to San-Kyung. Could he have been the perpetrator, and could La-Iin have been with him? La-Iin claimed the two were friends now, so it wasn’t a completely ridiculous idea. But reading up on Animated Pumpkins, she knew that all of them experienced a great surge of power on Halloween–not only the Aesthetically Normal ones. There had been no report on the appearance of the Animated Pumpkin except that he seemed to be male and that he was not Aesthetically Normal, although one police officer had later claimed he was. San-Kyung was not the only Animated Pumpkin in Bledger, she knew that, and not even the only Aesthetically Normal male. She was certain. Maybe it wasn’t even an Animated Pumpkin from Bledger at all–maybe it had been an outsider.
It did make her wonder. She considered San-Kyung, but he seemed like a strange option if only for how well he had treated her and the fact that the police reported waking up with the perpetrator gone. How would an Animated Pumpkin have been able to send police to sleep?
Unless, of course, the Animated Pumpkin was a Dualbreed. ‘They say half-Sirens can change their appearance…I’m sure half-Animated Pumpkins still get the surge. So maybe….’
Either way that didn’t eliminate the possibility that La-Iin could have been in the area. Had that been what startled her? Mit-Sun hadn’t heard of any fatalities caused by the incident, but then again, the investigation was still ongoing.
Lost in her thoughts, she only noticed the phone had been ringing when a message started to come in. She picked up the phone in the midst of the message.
“And I am–“
“I know it’s you, Asul-Zenza,” she said, her tone deadpan. “What do you want? I kind of have a problem right now.”
“What sort of problem?”
“A La-Iin problem. So make it quick. You’re the last person I want to talk to right now.”
“…what’s wrong with La-Iin? Is she alright?”
Mit-Sun sighed. Should she tell Asul-Zenza what was wrong with their daughter? She didn’t want him rushing over to the Cahongyun house. ‘But now that he knows something’s wrong, he won’t leave me alone about it….not to mention, La-Iin does trust him more….maybe she’d open up to him. …gah, I hate this.’
“I don’t know,” she said, opting for honesty. “She came home late last night. She left for school yesterday and I didn’t see her until early morning today. She’s been quiet ever since she got back and hasn’t talked to me.”
“What!?”
“….I really hate to ask you, but could you come over? She’s more open with you than with me….maybe if you talk to her, she’ll tell you what’s going on. I just want to get to the bottom of this….there was an incident here in Bledger yesterday, and I want to know if she was inv…caught in the middle.”
“I can definitely make time for La-Iin. In fact, I was calling to say I wanted to come over. I was thinking that I haven’t been able to teach her much of anything, so I wanted to try and help her learn SOMETHING….but this is evidently more dire. I’ll be over as soon as possible.”
Mit-Sun couldn’t help but feel irritated by his admission of planning to come over. “You can take your time,” she said, her tone falling deadpan again. “Just….not too long. The sooner we can get to the bottom of this, the better.”
“Oh, I definitely agree. I’ll be there soon. Talk to you then.”
“You don’t need–” But before she could finish, Asul-Zenza had hung up on her. With a sigh, she slammed the phone back onto its cradle and went to sit back down at the table. She held her head in her hands.

When Asul-Zenza landed at the the Cahongyun house, he couldn’t help but be worried. Just before he had left, he had decided to find out about the incident that had occured in Bledger, and what he learned made him feel cold.
Was it possible that his daughter had been caught in the middle of that?
He knocked on the door. It felt like forever before Mit-Sun answered it.
“…”
“Where is she?” Asul-Zenza asked.
“In her bedroom. ….don’t fly in the house,” she said, before making room for him to come inside. Once he was in, Choungetsu yapped and ran for him. He gave Choungetsu a single pet on the head before heading through the house until he reached the stairs.
‘I could get there so much faster if she would let me fly…’ But he didn’t want to agitate Mit-Sun right now. So he followed her rules and walked up the stairs.
La-Iin’s bedroom door was open. He walked inside without knocking, moving slowly towards her. La-Iin noticed him before he reached her bed, and stared up at him with a blank expression.
“…Dami?”
‘Oh, thank goodness she’s talking to me!’ Asul-Zenza gave a mental sigh of relief.
“Yes, it’s me,” he said, moving faster and sitting down on her bed promptly. “I came to see you.”
“….hello, Dami.”
“Hello, La-Iin,” he said, trying to avoid sounding nervous. He wanted to ease into asking La-Iin about what had happened last night, not rush into it–so he opted to say, “How has this week been for you?”
La-Iin’s eyes widened and she turned away from Asul-Zenza. Asul-Zenza blinked in surprise. ‘Something definitely happened,’ he thought.
“Is everything alright, La-Iin?”
“…I just feel strange, Dami.”
“Are you getting sick? It is getting colder outside…”
“No…” She sighed. “I don’t think you’d understand, Dami.”
“I can try,” he said. “You can tell me what’s wrong. I won’t even tell Mit-Sun if you don’t want me to. You know, she’s worried about you too. So worried that she even let me come over…”
La-Iin’s blank expression was still off-putting to him–he was used to his daughter’s expressionless face, but this felt different. Still, she seemed to be relaxing a little, so he let himself hope a little bit.
“…I just feel like something that happened is…weird.”
“Like what?”
“…Dami, have you ever felt like….you know something happened, but you can’t believe it?”
Asul-Zenza smiled. Her words had brought back a pleasant memory. He tried to keep the smile small however, so she didn’t think he wasn’t taking her seriously.
“Yes, I have,” he said. “There’s been a lot of those times throughout my life…when I learned how to fly was one. When I got engaged to Mit-Sun…that was another. Learning she was pregnant with you, now that was a big surprise. I think one of the biggest, though, if not the biggest…that had to be your birth. I know it’s probably not exactly the same as what’s on your mind, but it’s sort of like…I know I’m a father now, but I can’t believe I have a daughter…am I going to wake up and this will have all been a dream? Like that.”
“…I feel that way for my thing too,” she said. “Something surprising happened really quick…so I feel like it was real, but maybe not….”
“I bet most people could understand that feeling,” he said. “Lots of people have times in their lives like that, because lots of people will have surprising things happen to them. Even if it doesn’t seem so surprising to someone else, the first time it happens for you could be a shock…also everyone’s definition of ‘surprising’ is different.”
“Mm-hm…but it probably really happened, Dami. Unless I was just really tired…I don’t usually stay up that late.”
“I’m sure it did happen,” he sighed. “…but could you tell me what exactly that is, though?”
“You wouldn’t really understand, Dami,” she said. “But…something happened and then it ended. It all happened really quick. Yesterday felt like maybe only two or three hours. It’s just strange. It was really exciting…then it was kind of a letdown…I don’t know how to explain it any better, Dami.”
“That’s alright…I think I understand a little bit of what happened.”
La-Iin’s eyes widened. “…you do?”
“Yes. Not completely, of course. That could only happen if you told me the whole story yourself. But…close enough.” He stood up. “Do you feel better, talking about it?”
“A little.”
“Do you mind if I tell Mit-Sun? Because she’s really worried about you.”
“…I can tell her myself, Dami,” she said.
“Alright. I’m sure she’ll appreciate that.”
La-Iin almost wanted to thank him. She nearly did, but cut herself off before the first letter could completely cross her lips. She already felt as if she was acting weak enough, and after what had happened to San-Kyung… “…I needed to talk.”
“I’m glad I could help.”
“Are you gonna go now, Dami? Did you only come over for this?”
“Well, I don’t think Mit-Sun would like me staying here, but…” Asul-Zenza thought over it for a short while. Mit-Sun thought he was talking to La-Iin about what had happened. It could take him a while to coax the story out of her–a little lie wouldn’t hurt Mit-Sun in the long run, he was sure.
“Actually, I think we have a little more time,” he said, closing her bedroom door. “And I had been thinking, I’d like to teach you something too. I’m sure you learn a lot from Mit-Sun and at school, but I’d like to help you learn too, so…could you indulge me?”
“I’m sure you could teach me something interesting, Dami,” La-Iin said. She sounded happy, and it warmed Asul-Zenza’s heart. “What did you wanna teach me?”
“Well, why don’t I tell you about Vampire societies? I’ve lived in them all my life, so maybe you’d like to hear about some of the traditions and happenings there.”
La-Iin sat down and stared up at him with wide eyes. Asul-Zenza noticed her wings were giving rapid flaps.
“Well, in a Vampire society, there are usually several Vampires–since we live so long, there are often many, many generations of a family living there…my direct family may be small, but if I told you of all the generations of Ghneckdo currently alive, you might be surprised…”

—–
“I don’t know how you do it, Asul-Zenza,” Mit-Sun sighed. “….”
“Do I get a thank you?” He asked.
“No,” she said bluntly. Asul-Zenza rolled his eyes. “….but I would like to know what it is you do different. You always make La-Iin so happy…”
“I don’t think it’s anything I’m doing. I think she just likes seeing me because she can’t see me often. Though if there’s any advice I could give you, it would be to sit down and listen to her sometimes, or talk to her about things she likes. Don’t dismiss her talks.”
“I didn’t think I was…”
“You’ll find the way for you, I’m sure,” he said. Mit-Sun glared.
“Don’t smile at me like that.”
“Fine, fine,” he said, though his smile remained. “I never thought the day would come that I’d be giving you advice,” he chuckled. “…it’s nice.”
“Yeah well, don’t get used to it. I have more experience being a parent than you do.”
“I know you do.” He turned and spread his wings. “Well….be seeing you, Mit-Sun!”
Mit-Sun watched him take off. “…yeah, I guess I’ll be seeing you again soon.”

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