The La-Iin Series
“The Annual Celebration of Stitches”
“Happy birthday to me,” Bes-Isa sang. “Happy birthday to me.”
“Do you have to wake up so early?” La-Iin whined. “I’m tired. And I have to go to school.” She grimaced. “I really don’t want to go to school today.”
“I know you have to go to school. I’m not asking you to do anything for me before that. I only want a little something today anyway. If you can give me those things, I won’t bother you at all.”
La-Iin blinked at Bes-Isa, then checked her clock. She sighed. “Okay, what do you want.” ‘If it gets you off my back…’
“I want to do all the things I like. I want today to be a day devoted to doing all things Bes-Isa. I’m aware not all of those things are possible. I’m not going to ask you to summon a horde of scantily-dressed women to spend my birthday with me. Not really in the mood for that today anyway.”
“Scantily-dressed?” La-Iin asked.
“I know you know what I mean. Anyway, all I’m asking for is a good birthday. So no or minimal Choungetsu, Eul-Bok and that woman. Though I’d like to see Sale-Dessu so I can see if I can get anything from him. I want to ask Asul-Zenza if he can make it over here today. He’s honestly your more tolerable parent even if he IS a goody-goody. At least a phone call suffices. Oh, and also, it might be nice if you invite Fer-Shi over. She treats me pretty well, I bet I could get something from her.”
“I want something from you too. Aside from that, I just want to do all I like.”
La-Iin went to go get dressed. “Do you want me to take you to school?”
“It might be fun to break up the monotony of staying home….but I don’t care. Just make sure to leave me with the radio on in the miscellaneous room if you don’t. Oh, and La-Iin, just one last thing.”
“Yes, your highness,” La-Iin said sarcastically. “What now?”
“I just wanted you to know I still remember the day I came to life. The day years ago when I woke up for the first time and my first sights was some diaper-butt baby with barely any hair staring at me and making this HORRIBLE squealing noise. I swear you squealed like a little piggy when you were a baby.”
La-Iin huffed. “But no matter how horrifying that day was, it was still the day I came to life. It’s so memorable because it was so scary. And it’s all your fault, even if you did it by accident. But thanks for giving me the chance to have a birthday at all.”
La-Iin stared blankly at Bes-Isa. “Thanking me? Are you alright?”
“I’m fine. I suppose the thanks sounded a little off, so I’ll retract it. But either way, it feels like it’s been a long time that you’ve been controlling me. Who knows, depending on what Sale-Dessu’s been up to and what he might do next year, this could be my the last birthday you’re still controlling me!”
La-Iin stuffed Bes-Isa into her backpack before she could notice her cringe. “Don’t get your hopes up. Birthdays can be disappointing.”
“Don’t mess mine up. I’ve never really had a birthday celebration before. Every other year was basically ‘Oh, Bes-Isa, I brought you to life when I was a baby this day!’ so I’m looking forward to having an actual birthday. Lots of the people you know have had actual birthdays.”
“I wasn’t trying to mess it up, but if you keep nagging me, I will,” La-Iin hissed. “I have to go to school now.”
“Let’s go, then!”
Bes-Isa was sure that if her body worked like La-Iin’s, she would have thrown up on the way to school. La-Iin didn’t let her out of her backpack until she was inside the school, and Bes-Isa had felt her start to fly and run towards San-Kyung. She felt her flinches, her normal walking–she was starting to wonder if she was getting too sensitive to these things.
“You brought Bes-Isa with you?” Fer-Shi commented when La-Iin pulled her out. “You haven’t brought her to school in ages!”
“It hasn’t been that long,” La-Iin said.
“It may be a rare occurrence, but she did it because today is my birthday. I didn’t want to stay bored at home and risk encountering bad people.”
“It’s your birthday? Happy birthday, Bes-Isa!” Fer-Shi smiled at La-Iin. “That’s so cute that you gave her a birthday.”
“Actually she didn’t give me anything. Today is just the day I came to life. And La-Iin, feeling as indebted as she does towards giving the people she cares about happy birthdays, offered to help make mine a great one. I don’t normally have people celebrate my birthday, so I figured I would exploit this arguably goody-goody feeling of La-Iin’s and make mine as amazing as I can.”
La-Iin started to squeeze Bes-Isa. Bes-Isa gagged.
“I hope you have a good day,” Fer-Shi said.
“Oh, since we’re still on the topic, would you mind coming over today?”
Fer-Shi noticed La-Iin roll her eyes. “Why?”
“Because you’ve been nice to me before, so I want you there. Over at La-Iin’s house she’s the only one worth living with on a daily basis. I can’t stand Choungetsu or that woman.”
“Well, if it’s okay, sure!”
“First step completed,” Bes-Isa whispered as La-Iin stuffed her into her backpack. Through the fabric, she heard a man shout “EVERYONE SHUT UP!!”
For Bes-Isa, La-Iin’s backpack was only slightly more interesting than staying home all day. She could hear the sounds of class from the backpack, but she couldn’t understand any of it. The only person whose words she could make out were La-Iin’s, and she barely talked.
‘Is it better to be jostled around in a backpack than lay at home bored?’ It was at least an interesting experience in her opinion.
‘And it’s good to get a chance to get away from Choungetsu and that woman…’
She was still relieved when La-Iin retrieved her from the backpack and began to levitate her. Fer-Shi was beside her, smiling wide.
“Hi, Bes-Isa! Hey, how come you didn’t let her out during our break classes?”
“BREAK CLASSES!? I KNEW something strange was going on! How come you didn’t let me out!?”
If La-Iin had done that intentionally, Bes-Isa couldn’t tell either by her tone or by her facial expression. “I’m not used to bringing you to school. I forgot you were in there. You didn’t talk at all.”
Bes-Isa wanted to retort, but she realized La-Iin had a point. ‘I’ll only sound stupid if I snap at her now.’
“I suppose I should’ve yelled out,” she said with a sigh. “The worst part about all of this is that I’m pretty sure I know when you two were having your break classes. Kind of disappointing, really.”
“Sorry about that,” Fer-Shi said. “I should’ve remembered.”
“No, you’re fine. Mostly.”
“Fer-Shi, when we get to my house, can you go inside before me and tell Mama I’ll be there soon? Bes-Isa wanted to do something and I want to do it quick before she does whatever it is she wants to do with you.”
“I bet Fer-Shi trusts me more than she trusts you,” Bes-Isa sneered. “She’s willing to go ahead and wait for us for MY sake, but I bet if you said the same to her and you were going on your own she wouldn’t trust you.”
Fer-Shi stiffened. La-Iin narrowed her eyes as her gaze fell on her. “Is this true?”
“Um, well….you talk about doing evil things a lot, La-Iin, and everyone can tell…..ohhh, it isn’t that I trust Bes-Isa more, but right now I don’t think where you’re going is all that evil, so…”
“I have some pretty malicious values, if you haven’t noticed already. But where we’re going is actually fairly tame for La-Iin.”
“I mostly take you out for sitting in front of the house and dog walks,” La-Iin said. “You don’t know what sort of places I go to on my own.”
“I have a pretty good idea of some of them.”
As they reached the Cahongyun house, Fer-Shi waved them off and then ran ahead. La-Iin continued to walk until she and Bes-Isa reached Sale-Dessu’s house. She tried to open the door, but again it was locked. Sale-Dessu arrived shortly after she jiggled the doorknob, just as she was reaching up to bite it.
“….hello?” He said, his confusion evident.
“Hello, Sale-Dessu. We’re dropping in for a little bit. Today is my birthday and I wanted to see you as part of it.”
Sale-Dessu’s eyes widened. Bes-Isa noticed his hand start to twitch as it reached for one of his mats. “Happy birthday, Bes-Isa,” he said quietly.
La-Iin walked inside the house. Sale-Dessu closed the door.
“I don’t really know how to handle birthdays,” he said. “…what can I do for you?”
“Well, I’m assuming your autonomy project hasn’t made any significant progress…”
Sale-Dessu shook his head. “I’m afraid it hasn’t.”
“Well, first things first, if Eul-Bok is asleep, keep him that way until I leave. And the other thing was, is there anything interesting you can get me? Nobody even really knew it was my birthday so nobody had any presents for me. And I want some presents.”
“I can make you a present, but I don’t know what you’d like.”
“I’d say the thought is what counts, if I was a goody-goody….hm….no, if I ask for that I’ll get La-Iin in trouble. Might be fun but what if she does something to ME…I couldn’t fight back…”
“Oh, I know!” Sale-Dessu exclaimed. “But that could take a while…I don’t want to make you leave right after you came here.”
“We live next door.”
“I know,” Sale-Dessu said shyly, toying with his mat. “Um…oh. La-Iin, could I see Bes-Isa for a moment?”
“Why?” La-Iin took a defense stance and brought Bes-Isa close.
“I’m not going to do anything to her, promise,” he said.
La-Iin glared. “I want to know what he wants from me!” With an exasperated sigh, La-Iin levitated Bes-Isa over to Sale-Dessu. Sale-Dessu took her gently in his hands and stared at her for a few moments.
“Uh, this is getting kind of weird!”
Sale-Dessu cradled her against his shoulder. “Thank you, my ally,” he said. La-Iin’s eye twitched.
“YOU’RE CREEPING ME OUT!” Bes-Isa shrieked. La-Iin flung Bes-Isa backwards into her arms. Sale-Dessu seemed startled when she broke away from him.
“I’m sorry, I just wanted to do something for you…”
“That was just…I don’t even know.”
Sale-Dessu looked dejected.
“To make up for that offense, why not show me some of your stuff? I like seeing what you can do. Guaging the extent of your powers is what makes me think the autonomy project might work. And demonstration of powers is a little bit of a better reason to use them than sheer curiosity.”
Sale-Dessu smiled. “I can do that.”
La-Iin and Bes-Isa returned to the Cahongyun house a little later. Fer-Shi was sitting on the couch with Choungetsu and giggling.
“Choungetsu’s so affectionate!” Fer-Shi said. “I like animals. I wish we had one.”
“Would you want to live with someone as stupid as Choungetsu?” La-Iin asked.
“I don’t think he’s stupid! He’s just super-affectionate! Aren’t you?” She ruffled the fur on his head. Choungetsu licked her cheek and she started to giggle more.
La-Iin head for the kitchen and heard Bes-Isa sigh when she noticed Mit-Sun sitting there. “Hi, La-Iin,” she said.
“Hello Mama, I’m going to call Dami.”
“Bes-Isa wants to. And calling him isn’t inviting him over.”
She started to dial his number.
“La-Iin! I should have known it was you. I was worried Mit-Sun was calling me for some nefarious reason…wait, you’re not calling for a nefarious reason yourself, are you?”
“No. I wouldn’t do that with you, Dami, though you just gave me an idea….Bes-Isa’s birthday is today and she wanted to talk to you.”
“Oh, yes, Bes-Isa’s birthday! Damn, I’m not going to be able to make it over today. I have a shift at night.”
“That’s fine with me,” Bes-Isa said. “I just wanted to talk with you. In my opinion you’re the more tolerable of La-Iin’s parents…I feel dirty to have been created by that woman.”
“Thank you, Bes-Isa. That’s quite a compliment. Though I’m not sure I agree with your disdain for Mit-Sun…”
Fer-Shi tapped La-Iin on the shoulder. “Hey, can I talk to you about something? It’ll just be real quick while Bes-Isa’s on the phone.”
La-Iin blinked. “Okay. You’re on your own, Bes-Isa,” she said, propping her up against the phone as she walked off.
“What just happened?”
“Oh, Fer-Shi’s over and La-Iin went off with her.”
“Ah…you know, Bes-Isa, there’s something I’ve never gotten the chance to tell you but I’ve always wanted to say.”
“If this is a confession of love then the answer is no.”
“Of course it’s not. What I was going to say was thank you for staying with La-Iin. I know you’re her longest friend. You’ve stayed with her even on days you’d probably rather do without her.”
“There have been a LOT of those days. And I can’t really leave her, because I’m sort of controlled…but I suppose she’s not the worst person to be around. We get each other because we’ve been stuck together since before she was one and we’ll probably be stuck together for the rest of our lives. We share some of the same values and ideas about the world. I’d say I’m the one who understands the inner workings of her mind best, and that’s not only because of how long we’ve been together. Back when she was little, I couldn’t stand her because basically all she did was stick me in her mouth and chew on me. But she got older and smarter, so…she’s doing this for me, which is kind of goody-goody, but today, I don’t really care. I’m happy to have a birthday celebration because I’ve never gotten that before.”
“I’m happy to hear it. And I wish you the best of luck on your birthday. I hope you enjoy the rest of the day.”
“I probably will.”
“Maybe someday I should take you somewhere.”
“Not unless I’m going with La-Iin! You can’t control me, Asul-Zenza. And I’ll admit, levitating is a bit more comfortable than being held.”
“Well, I always look forward to days I can spend with La-Iin…speaking of, did our little outing the other day get leaked to Mit-Sun?”
“She never heard a thing about it.”
“Ah, good. Well, anything else you’d like to talk about?”
“I think I’ve rambled on long enough. Also La-Iin’s coming to get me, so I assume she wants to do something with me. Hopefully that’s not abusing me. Well, I guess I’ll talk to you again someday, Asul-Zenza.”
“All right. Happiest of birthdays, Bes-Isa. I’ll be speaking with you again someday soon.”
La-Iin hung up the phone as she levitated Bes-Isa over to her. “You talked for a long time.”
“I had nothing better to do.”
“Well, I’m taking you somewhere now.”
“So long as that place is somewhere decent, that’s fine with me.”
La-Iin held Bes-Isa to her chest as she walked away from the kitchen and up the stairs. She walked over to her bedroom and slowly opened the door.
Sitting at La-Iin’s table was Mit-Sun, Choungetsu, Fer-Shi and Sale-Dessu. A small dollhouse sat on the table, in front of it a tiny cake.
“HAPPY BIRTHDAY, BES-ISA!” Fer-Shi and Sale-Dessu called. Choungetsu gave a yip.
“Sorry Choungetsu’s here. He really wanted to come upstairs when he saw Mr. Astineth!” Fer-Shi said. Choungetsu stared up at La-Iin, an innocent expression on his face as his tail wagged hard enough to smack Mit-Sun, who glared at him.
“Here’s your present,” Sale-Dessu said. “I made a small place for you to stay whenever La-Iin can’t control you…I know you can’t move around without her help, but I thought you might like a change of scenery. I didn’t make something like this for Eul-Bok, so…” His eyes started to dart around, as if he was nervous about looking at her. “This is all for you.”
Bes-Isa fell silent. “This was all Fer-Shi’s idea, I hope you know,” she said.
“Let me at her.”
La-Iin grinned at Bes-Isa’s tone and sent her flying Fer-Shi’s way, but grimaced when she heard her yell “Thank you!”
“You’re welcome!?” Fer-Shi squeaked. “Really, you’re starting to freak me out, Bes-Isa…”
“You know what, you eat the tiny cake. I can’t eat. I can’t believe you did this for me.”
“What about what I did!?” La-Iin yelled.
“I want to see inside this place!” Sale-Dessu opened up the dollhouse and Bes-Isa began to squeal in delight. La-Iin was starting to feel sick.
‘This isn’t like you at all,’ she wanted to say.
“What’s this dress!?”
“Oh, I-I made a dress, to go with the closet…this was all made with my powers…I hope you don’t mind. I don’t have any actual handicraft skills, or much sewing skill…”
“It works for me. Hey, La-Iin, mind taking me back to you?”
La-Iin drew back Bes-Isa with an intensity she hoped would make her angry, but instead she simply said, “Thank you, too.”
La-Iin glared. “…you’re being creepy.”
“I guess too much good can do that to you…ah, I’m going to have to make up for today, but for now I’m just too excited. I retract my thank yous, though.”
As Bes-Isa started to ask Fer-Shi and Sale-Dessu questions, La-Iin smiled a small smile.
‘That’s everyone, isn’t it? Now I better have a good birthday otherwise next year I’ll make everyone else’s shit…maybe I’ll do that even if I have a good one.’
“If this hadn’t been made with powers I’d be intrigued by the handyman’s skill,” Bes-Isa said as she examined the dollhouse again. “There’s so many small details.”
“Are you sleeping in here tonight?”
“Yeah. …goodnight, La-Iin, and…screw a thank you. You fulfilled my demands, so I suppose I owe you a ramble about San-Kyung.”
“You don’t owe me. I was going to do it whether you like it or not.”
“That figures…well, bad night then.”
La-Iin giggled. “Bad night.”