7.645.Think Positive

The La-Iin Series
Chapter 645
“Think Positive”

As soon as she woke up, La-Iin could smell food cooking. Without getting dressed or even checking the time, she got out of bed and head downstairs, yawning. Choungetsu, who was sitting in front of her door, followed her downstairs with his tongue lolling.
When she arrived downstairs, Mit-Sun was setting down plates, a wide smile on her face. She continued to smile when she noticed La-Iin, though her tone sounded contrary to her expression.
“How come you’re still in pajamas? Don’t you usually get dressed before you come downstairs?”
“What time is it?” La-Iin yawned.
“It’s pretty early. Earlier than we normally get up. I felt energetic, so I decided to make breakfast now. We’ll probably have plenty of time before we have to leave, but I’m sure even if we stay home a little later than we should you’ll still make it to school on time. You have the benefit of wings and legs on your side. So I don’t think it matters.”
Mit-Sun’s smile deeply unsettled La-Iin. “Why are you so happy?”
“Oh, just things that have happened.”
“Like what things?
“Hey, you’ve been happy lately too. Why am I getting interrogated about my happiness?”
“Because mine makes clear sense. Yours doesn’t.”
Mit-Sun rolled her eyes, but her smile persisted. It only made the unsettled feeling in La-Iin stronger. “Well, my Papa–I mean Father–Father got out of the hospital recently. And also I’ve just been feeling pretty happy lately. Things have been going good for me, it seems. And that’s good. I really thought I was going to become one of those ‘dedicate your life to your kid’-type parents. I’m glad to see I can enjoy my own life as well as take care of you.”
La-Iin gagged. “Your happiness is astoundingly sickening, Mama. Somehow it’s even more intolerable than your half-assed goody-goodyness…”
“Oh, be quiet. I’ve been trying to think positive. Things have been great for me. You’re happy, even though you’ve been acting up, our life at home is fine, my Father is fine, even Asul-Zenza’s been less annoying lately.”
“You, complimenting Dami!?”
“Well, he’s trying his best, and he does love you, so I’ll give him that. But not to mention, Mrs. Eteibreit gave me a raise! It isn’t much, but it just seems really weird, because she’s been so grouchy lately! But you know what, I’ll take any goodness I can get. If even Mrs. Eteibreit is being nicer to me, then I’ve got to have some sort of luck on my side. That’s definitely reason to think positive in my book. And if I do, maybe if things start going downhill again, I’ll know how to handle them better.”
La-Iin nearly vomited. ‘It’s intolerable! A happy Mama is one thing. This is a whole nother! I need to knock her down soon. I don’t know how long I can take this!’
The two finished their breakfast, Mit-Sun quicker than La-Iin, who continued to gag throughout the meal.
“What, you don’t like it? Am I really that bad a cook?”
“No, this is one of your better meals. Unfortunately you brought something to the table that destroyed my appetite…”
Mit-Sun checked all of what was on the table and the floor. The only thing she could assume La-Iin was talking about was Choungetsu, who stared at her intently. She beckoned to Choungetsu and he ran over to her, though La-Iin continued to gag even after he had left.
The two got ready for school and work. They were ready long before they had to leave, as Mit-Sun had said.
“Now what?”
“I don’t know about you, but I have a little something to do.”
As if on cue, someone knocked at the door. Mit-Sun ran to answer it.
“Papa!” She hugged him close.
“Hi, Mit-Sun.” He hugged her back.
“I’m so glad to see you. Are you sure you’re feeling okay, though? I know it wasn’t that bad, but–”
“Don’t worry about me, Mit-Sun. I know I’m older now, but I’m not that old. I’m not even seventy yet. And I was able to walk all this way, see?”
“I see,” she chuckled, relief evident in her tone. “Still, it’s good to see you. I’m glad you came over. I’ll have to go to work soon, though.”
“That’s alright. Remember what you said?”
“Yes. It’ll be good for La-Iin if someone else is home when she gets back from school. Who gets home first isn’t consistent.”
“Speaking of, hi, La-Iin!” Beht-Soh waved at her. La-Iin blinked up at him.
“Hello, Granddami. Tell Mama to stop being so cheerful for me, okay?”
“Huh?”
“I think she’s a little annoyed by me being in such a good mood. I’ve been trying to tell her it’s not fair, but well, that’s La-Iin for you.”
“You do look pretty happy. You’ve been smiling almost nonstop since I got here.”
“You just got here,” La-Iin said. “I’ve had to see her doofy smile for longer.”
“What has you so happy? Did something good happen?”
“Oh, not particularly, I’m just trying to think positive like I told La-Iin. And there’s a lot for me to be grateful for. I may not have many friends, but the friends I do have are good friends. I may not like Asul-Zenza, but as annoying as he is he’s not a bad man, and he does love La-Iin. I have things to look forward to, my boss gave me a raise, I’m able to take care of La-Iin and she’s been happy…I have a lot to be grateful for, and I’m looking forward to seeing what I can do with my life from here on out. I still haven’t decided.”
Mit-Sun glanced at La-Iin. “It’s weird. I used to think life would work better with your plans. And now I’m having to replan what I expected. It might be weird, but it is an interesting experience. I guess you could just say I’ve enjoyed the past few months and the future seems bright.”
La-Iin gagged.
“Oh, cut that out.”
“Not until you cut out your obnoxious cheerfulness. And you obviously know nothing of planning and replanning judging by your talk!”
Mit-Sun’s face twitched in agitation. “You just don’t want me to be happy, do you?” The words were said with an odd cheer, and they sent a shiver up Beht-Soh’s spine.
“Not like this, I don’t.”
Mit-Sun sighed. “I guess I’m not going to change your mind. Well, we’ll have to leave soon, Father, but would you like some breakfast?”
“Alright. Thank you, Mit-Sun!”
“It’s no problem.”

***

At work, Mit-Sun’s cheerful mood was still obvious. Her coworkers noticed her carry out work she normally hated with a smile, greeting some of them as she went along her way. It stirred up quite a bit of confusion.
At least, among the coworkers that didn’t know her as well.
“I still can’t believe Mrs. Eteibreit gave you a raise! I wish she’d do that for me,” Leirhyn sighed.
“It’s something that probably only happens once in a decade,” Mit-Sun sighed.
“Well, I think you deserved it. As much as I would have liked that raise, you’re the one with a child to think about.” Uil-Cur said.
“I don’t know why she gave me a raise, but I’m glad for it. I have been in a good mood recently. Maybe all that rubbed off on my work.”
“Maybe!” Leirhyn said.
Focused on talking to her two friends, Mit-Sun was oblivious to Eteibreit’s presence behind her until her boss stroked her with her tail.
“Eek!”
“Cahongyun,” she said, her tone taciturn. “It looks like you’ve completed work for the day. How perfect that you haven’t gone home yet.”
“It is?”
“Yes. I was going to ask you if you’d come to my office.” She glared at Leirhyn and Uil-Cur, though her gaze lingered on the latter as she said, “Don’t you still have work to do?”
“I actually finished that and then some, Mrs. Eteibreit. Mit-Sun has been here for a while.”
Eteibreit huffed. Mit-Sun waved to her two friends, then followed Eteibreit to her office. Despite her resolution to think positively, she couldn’t help but get a bad feeling.
‘Mrs. Eteibreit calling me to her office is never anything good…I just wonder if it’s the disturbing kind of bad or the detrimental kind of bad.’
Eteibreit sat down.
“I’ve noticed you’ve been in a good mood lately, Cahongyun. Care to explain?”
Mit-Sun was confused.
“Well, yes. There’s been a lot for me to enjoy lately. A lot I’m grateful for.”
Eteibreit’s nose wrinkled. “I see.”
“Is something wrong, Mrs. Eteibreit? You don’t look all that happy.”
Eteibreit closed her eyes for a short while; then, she said, “Of course I’m not.”
“Hm?”
“The person I just gave a raise made a grave mistake, after all.”
“What!?”
“Yes, you messed up something important while doing your job yesterday, Cahongyun. How disappointing.”
“B–but I was paying close attention! What did I mess up!?”
“Tsk tsk. You don’t even know the fatal mistake you made.”
“What is that!?”
“Go and find it yourself, Cahongyun. Prove your competence to me.” By now Eteibreit was smiling. To Mit-Sun, it seemed a sadistic smile. “Prove you are worthy of your raise by finding out what your mistake is by yourself!”
Mit-Sun had a bad feeling. She rushed out Eteibreit’s office and passed by Leirhyn and Uil-Cur.
“Cahongyun?”
“Sorry, something urgent came up!”
She checked the records of all she had done yesterday. Then, she checked the papers on her desk, the papers for tomorrow, and even went to the extent of checking all the papers she had sorted, all she had gone over and certified. Nothing seemed out of order, and she was starting to feel frazzled.
She returned to Eteibreit’s office.
“Mrs. Eteibreit? I looked through everything I did yesterday and I couldn’t find the mistake you were talking about. I don’t think I made a mistake, but if there’s something I messed up, you have to tell me! You can’t just threaten me and not even give me a hint as to…wait a second…”
Eteibreit was smiling. Her shoulders were shaking slightly, as if she was holding back laughter.
“You tricked me, didn’t you!?”
“Ah, I said it would prove your competency. I should have said your incompetency. You never fail to disappoint me, Cahongyun. At least in how disappointing you are, that is.”
“What!?”
“Just for that display of stupidity, I’m docking your pay.”
Mit-Sun gaped.
“Try thinking positively about that.”
“Is this what this is all about? Why is that making you so angry? In fact, why have you been so angry lately, Mrs. Eteibreit?”
“This is how I always am, Cahongyun. Say what you will, but you already know that.”
“I–”
From the look in Eteibreit’s eyes, Mit-Sun could see there was no further room for complaint. Frustrated, she left Eteibreit’s office and stomped back to her friends.
“What happened, Mit-Sun? You seem frazzled.”
She sighed. “It’s nothing. Nothing bad enough to get me down, anyway. I just really need to look for another job. But no matter what Eteibreit tries to do, or what La-Iin says, I’m not going to stop trying to think positively. Things have been looking up for me. And if I keep thinking positively, I’m sure there will be a better payoff than if I stopped!”
“She’s certainly fired up about this whole positive thinking thing,” Leirhyn said.
“She is. I should take her advice. I could have used it some months back…”
“Still, makes you wonder what happened with Mrs. Eteibreit to get her more fired up like this!”

—–
“Hi, Mit-Sun.”
“Oh. Mama.”
“Hello, La-Iin. Father.” Mit-Sun stretched. “Would you two like to go out somewhere?”
“Why are you asking?”
“Because my pay got docked for Thursday and Friday and it’ll throw a bone into my shopping budget,” she sighed. “We might as well do something fun while I still have the extra vuyong.”
“What are you planning?” La-Iin asked, her tone almost accusatory.
“Nothing, really. I was hoping you two had suggestions.”
Beht-Soh raised his hand. “Well, how about we go to the enigmatic part of town? I’ve heard there are whole parts of Bledger that are on the border of other cities that have some really interesting places to go.”
“Hm….as long as it’s not near Iecation.”
“Why not that one?” Mit-Sun asked. “But sure, that sounds like fun. But let’s plan it out a little more first, alright?”

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24.632.Reasoning

The La-Iin Series
Chapter 632
“Reasoning”

Asul-Zenza flew above Vaelyn, enjoying the feel of the wind.
‘It’s cooled down fairly quickly, hasn’t it?’ He always loved the way autumn flights felt. They relaxed him.
While flying, he noticed that he was in Bledger. He even spotted the neighborhood where La-Iin and Mit-Sun lived a short distance away.
‘I wonder…’
September had been somewhat of a strange month. Mit-Sun had invited Asul-Zenza and his parents, along with other members of La-Iin’s family, out to spend time with her, and he had been receiving calls from La-Iin with what felt like more frequency than usual.
‘I suppose we’ve been getting on better terms ever since 2014, but it does seem really strange. I only seem to feel complacent when there’s no reason to be…’
A sudden curiosity overtaking him, he decided to head down and visit the Cahongyun house. Once he spotted it he landed.
He knocked on the door. Mit-Sun answered it fairly quickly.
“I thought I asked you to warn before you visited.”
“Sorry, but this was slightly spur of the moment. I had a sudden curiosity and I figured it would be easier to stop here briefly rather than head home and call you.”
“Call me?” She asked. “Why? You’re here for me?”
Her expression suddenly hardened.
“I am, but as usual whenever I visit you, it isn’t for you, it’s somewhat about La-Iin.”
“Of course. …somewhat?” Mit-Sun stared up at him. “Hurry it up. I’m a little busy right now…”
Asul-Zenza noticed that Mit-Sun was holding tight to one arm. “Is something wrong?”
“Er–that’s none of your business.”
“It could be my business. Does it have to do with La-Iin!?”
Mit-Sun’s face relaxed. “No. She’s upstairs doing…something to Choungetsu. I’m not exactly sure what. If you want I can call her down here.”
“No, that won’t be necessary. If you’re busy it’s best I leave as soon as possible, and if I see her I won’t want to.”
Mit-Sun nodded. “Well?”
“You’ve seemed very kind lately, Mit-Sun.”
“Is this some sort of attempt to butter me up?”
“Not at all! I was just wondering what spurred the sudden kindness? Even as you were becoming more at ease with me being a part of La-Iin’s life you still had your contradictions. You would go between wanting La-Iin to bond with me and wanting me to disappear completely from your life.”
“I still don’t like you, in case you were wondering.”
“I figured…” Asul-Zenza sighed. “A-anyway, but yes, lately you’ve been seeming just completely alright with it. And it’s not just me either it seems, seeing as you invited my parents over to see her as well. So I was wondering, why the change? It seems so sudden to me…or perhaps there’s something I’ve missed?”
“Because–”
Before Mit-Sun finished, her eyes widened and she turned and ran back into her house. Asul-Zenza was tempted to follow her inside, but he was certain she would get mad at him for doing that. Still, the temptation remained, so he peeked his head in, only for Mit-Sun to run right past him seconds later.
“Mit-Sun? Is something the matter?”
“I’ll tell you later, Asul-Zenza,” Mit-Sun said, fixing her jacket. “I need to get to the hospital.”
“The hospital!?”
“Yes! Do me a favor and watch La-Iin for me, alright?”
“Th–the hospital? Mit-Sun, is everything alright?”
“It will be if I make it there in enough time….damn it, when are visiting hours over again?”
“Mit-Sun, you know how much I would love to watch La-Iin, but I think I need to help you here!”
“Help me? How?” Mit-Sun sounded genuinely confused.
“You need to get to a hospital? I can fly you there!”
Mit-Sun looked uncertain.
“It’s faster than going on foot, isn’t it!?”
“I–I suppose,” she sighed. “Fine, then. But at least tell La-Iin where we’re going…”
“You didn’t tell her yourself?” Mit-Sun glared. “Er, yes, certainly!”
Asul-Zenza ran into the house and up the stairs. La-Iin’s door was open, and he could hear Bes-Isa laughing before he saw La-Iin trying to fit a dress onto Choungetsu. When La-Iin looked up, Choungetsu broke free and hid behind Asul-Zenza, the dress still on him.
“Dami!”
“I’m sorry, La-Iin, but there’s a little emergency. Your mother and I are going to the hospital.”
“What? Why?”
“I don’t know, honestly,” he said, “but I’ll call you as soon as we get there! And I’ll be back, I promise. She will be too. But we need to go right now, so please stay here and don’t leave the house.”
“Huh?”
It broke his heart to leave her behind, but Asul-Zenza turned away, flew out the house, closed the door and grabbed hold of Mit-Sun.

***

Mit-Sun was anxious the entire time. As soon as they had arrived at the hospital, she started frantically asking about visiting hours. It reminded Asul-Zenza somewhat of his visits to Blooudine, and he started to feel as anxious as she seemed.
‘What’s going on? And is La-Iin going to be okay at home all by herself…’
“Come on.” Mit-Sun grabbed Asul-Zenza’s hand and dragged him over to a hospital room. She opened the door and breathed a sigh of relief.
“Mr. Cahongyun?”
“Asul-Zenza?”
Beht-Soh looked up from a book. “Mit-Sun I expected, but why is Asul-Zenza here too?”
Mit-Sun’s words came in between pants. “He helped me get here. Oh, Papa, I’m so glad you’re alright…”
“Mit-Sun, I told you, it wasn’t anything all that bad.”
“Seriously!? I heard that you fell and you were going to need surgery! Do you think I’ve been sitting still this entire time just thinking ‘oh, Papa’ll be okay’!? You’re elderly! And surgery can go wrong! I’ve been on edge this entire time waiting for them to say you’re awake so I can visit you!”
Mit-Sun started to cry, but she frantically wiped the tears on her shirt sleeve and took a seat next to Beht-Soh’s bed.
“It’s alright.”
“You don’t even know how scared I was…”
“It’s alright. I understand.”
“I…I thought I was going to lose you too…”
“I’m okay, I promise. They said everything’s going to be alright.”
Mit-Sun wailed.
“In fact, I’ll be out of the hospital soon! Don’t worry, Mit-Sun. It was only as bad as it was because it was a really hard fall. I fell off a ladder and I hit the ground at a speed that would hurt anybody. At least I didn’t break anything!”
“But you needed surgery…are you sure you didn’t break anything?”
“Certain! And I’m okay. So please don’t cry.”
Just watching the two was making Asul-Zenza tear up. He stepped out the room and took a deep breath.

“…thank you for flying me here, Asul-Zenza.”
“Not a problem. I’m glad you made it here safe.”
“Y-yeah…” Mit-Sun’s face screwed up. “Geez, you saw me cry…”
“I’ve seen you cry before,” Asul-Zenza said. Mit-Sun glared.
“I suppose I know the answer to my question now, though.”
“Huh?”
“It’s because of Mr. Cahongyun, isn’t it? He’s elderly now. La-Iin will live a long life. Even if most of her living family is Vampires, he’s still a part of it, and anyway most of her living family is older than she is and she has the extra years from being half-Normal. It’s a concern of mine too. It’s such an obvious answer now that I think on it…”
Mit-Sun shook her head. “That’s not it, Asul-Zenza. Well, I guess maybe a little…but it’s not the reason why I started doing this.”
“Hm?”
“La-Iin’s evil. I don’t want to change her. If she decides to become good or neutral in the future that’s her choice, but I’m not going to change who she is. That being said…I don’t want who she is to be a cold, heartless dictator. So I’m trying to let her bond with her family, just…give her that little nudge in the right direction, you know?”
“Ah, I see.”
“So go ahead and call her as often as you like. Around me she’s the same as always, but around family she always mellows out a bit. And if I can go without hearing that she took over some place like Neigghed or Caucas in the future, I’ll be happy. So…that’s it.”
Asul-Zenza nodded. “Well, that makes sense. Good luck, then.”
Mit-Sun sighed. “You called me kind, but I don’t understand how you could be so nice to someone who dislikes you as much as I do.”
“Because I’ve never disliked you. Is that so hard to grasp? I’m pretty sure I was the only one crying over our breakup.”
“Yeah, you’d be right there.”
Mit-Sun smiled.
“Hey, mind flying me back home too? This hospital is far from our house.”
“I don’t mind at all.”

—–
When the two arrived home, La-Iin was waiting at the door, holding Choungetsu, who was still wearing a dress.
“Why didn’t you take me?”
“I’m sorry, La-Iin. But it’s alright.”
“Who’s in the hospital? If it’s Haner, I guess I understand why I didn’t go.”
“Your Granddami’s in the hospital. But he’s fine.”
“…doormat Granddami, right?”
“Don’t call him that.”
“I’m sorry if we worried you, La-Iin,” Asul-Zenza said.
“I was fine.”
Asul-Zenza noticed that La-Iin’s eyes were slightly red. He smiled.
“Ah, I’d love to stay a little longer, but I was just reminded of something I should probably do. But La-Iin, let’s stay in touch, alright?”
“Okay?”
Asul-Zenza tapped Mit-Sun on the shoulder. “Looks like you’re doing a good job.”
He spread his wings and flew off.
“Are you and Dami getting back together?” La-Iin asked, her tone accusatory.
“If that’s what you think then you need more school.”

13.621.Family Bonding

The La-Iin Series
Chapter 621
“Family Bonding”

Mit-Sun sighed as she hung up the phone.
“You sure have been making a lot of phone calls recently,” La-Iin said. “But your birthday is already over. So what’s the point?”
“I have other reasons to be making phone calls aside from it being my birthday, you know.”
“I know that. But why are you?”
“It’s not your business, La-Iin.”
La-Iin’s eyes narrowed. “…you wouldn’t happen to know Haner’s phone number, would you?”
“I do–” La-Iin hissed at her. “But I haven’t talked to him since my birthday, whether over the phone or in person. So quit being like that.”
“Hmph.”
“Anyway, what these phone calls are for is my business and not yours.”
“You always eavesdrop on my phone calls…”
“I don’t always, so calm down, alright? After all, this’ll be good payoff for…”
“For…?”
“It’s nothing,” Mit-Sun sighed. “Just get out of the kitchen, alright?”
La-Iin huffed. She left the kitchen, but as she did continuously glared over her shoulder at Mit-Sun, up until she crashed into a wall.

***

“What do you need to buy downtown now, Mama?”
“Why do you ask?”
“We mostly go downtown when you need to buy something. You’d better tell me. You woke me up before I was ready.”
“You wouldn’t be tired if you hadn’t stayed up all night singing Usl-Thaehey songs at the top of your lungs,” Mit-Sun said. La-Iin’s eyes widened and her face flushed. “That’s right, I heard you. Now, look up ahead.”
La-Iin bit back her retort for the time being and looked ahead, and the sight she saw made her gasp. Waiting in a group, waving to her, were several people she recognized.
Namely, Asul-Zenza, her grandparents, and Ei-Tio’s family.
“Wha–?”
“While you were so bound and determined to interrupt my phone calls yesterday, I was calling all of them out here,” she said. “It’s mostly Asul-Zenza’s family though. You have more family on my side, but they don’t live in Bledger.”
“Ah….”
“Mit-Sun, I think you broke La-Iin,” Asul-Zenza said. “How are we supposed to have a family outing if she’s in that state?”
“Snap out of it, La-Iin,” Mit-Sun sighed. “Anyway, it’s good to see all of you–er…”
The crowd was all smiles–almost. Asul-Zenza’s parents Verde-Nenda and Anil-Kosha were obviously glaring at her.
“Uh…”
“What is it, Mit-Sun?” Beht-Soh asked.
“Asul-Zenza, your parents–why are they glaring at me like that?”
“Oh, that, well…”
“We’re only here because of La-Iin, I hope you know,” Anil-Kosha said.
“If it weren’t for her, all the persuasion in the world wouldn’t have brought us out.” Verde-Nenda said. Mit-Sun grit her teeth. ‘Damn, I guess I can’t expect them to like me after I broke up with Asul-Zenza the way I did…’
“You two are amazing,” La-Iin sighed. Almost immediately Verde-Nenda and Anil-Kosha’s glares turned to warm smiles. Mit-Sun was dumbfounded.
“Let’s just get going, alright?” Mit-Sun said. The group nodded and they set out across downtown.

The size of their group caught the attention of some people downtown, but to Mit-Sun’s relief, it wasn’t enough to prompt people to walk up to them, at least not yet. Mit-Sun’s mind was more focused on another problem, that being that the Ghneckdo side of La-Iin’s family seemed to be taking up all her time.
“How has school been, La-Iin? I hear you’re in it already.” Verde-Nenda asked.
“It’s fine.”
“Seven years old and in school. Seems you have a prodigy on your hands!” Anil-Kosha said. Asul-Zenza smiled.
“Nobody ever calls me that.”
“They must be foolish, then.”
“I don’t want to be called the same thing as Ai-Reia.”
“‘Ai-Reia’?” Shi-Bara asked. “You mean like Vampiris Ai-Reia?”
“Yes. She goes to my school.”
“Vaelyn’s child prodigy!?” All her family suddenly seemed quite excited–even Asul-Zenza’s eyes widened a bit, though La-Iin could have sworn she had already told him. “You go to school with her!?”
“Yes? Who cares? She’s annoying.”
“It’s amazing, that’s all,” Anil-Kosha said. “I knew she had flown under the radar recently, but to think she went to our own granddaughter’s school…”
“Though it sounds like you two don’t get along, huh?” Jul-Ense asked.
“No. Unfortunately.”
‘Does that mean it’s Vampiris’ fault?’ That was the thought on a few of their minds.
Behind the chatter, Mit-Sun sighed.
“Is something wrong, Mit-Sun?”
“No, not really. After all, Ghneckdos make up most of La-Iin’s family, so it’s not really a surprise that they’re taking up all her time. I have to face facts that we Cahongyuns aren’t a big family, although we’re the ones who live closest to her.”
“It’s probably because of that, Mit-Sun. The Ghneckdos don’t live very close to La-Iin so of course they want to monopolize her time. You live with her and it’s not too out of my way to visit her, but it takes them quite a while even with that amazing wingspan.”
“I guess.”
“Though I admit I’m still surprised you invited Asul-Zenza,” he chuckled. “What made you do that?”
“I have a reason,” she sighed, “but I’d rather tell you later, away from this crowd. But don’t go thinking it’s anything like ‘wanting to get back together’. I still don’t like that guy.”
“I didn’t think so.”
“Big sister, you still drawin’?”
“Yes. But if I brought my drawings to downtown, it would have been a mistake. That’ll have to wait for a more personal visit.”
“Okay!”
“No matter how much closer you and I want to be to La-Iin, there is no denying her bias to Asul-Zenza and Ei-Tio,” Verde-Nenda said.
“I suppose there isn’t, but that’s alright. She doesn’t know us as well.”
Anil-Kosha glanced over her shoulder. “And you must be Mr. Cahongyun.”
“M-me? Yes, that’s right. I’m Cahongyun Beht-Soh, Mit-Sun’s father.”
“Nice to meet you, sir. I am Ghneckdo Verde-Nenda.”
“And I am Ghneckdo Anil-Kosha. We’re Asul-Zenza’s parents.”
“I figured. I can kind of see where he got some of his features.”
“You seem much more pleasant than your daughter,” Anil-Kosha said.
“Some people have said that to me before. But my wife used to tell me that I was a doormat, so I always thought people would find me annoying. You just have to give her a chance.”
“Maybe someday, seeing as she was kind enough to plan this outing, but it’ll have to wait for now. La-Iin is here, after all!”
Beht-Soh sighed. “Well, I did my best to put in a good word for you.”
“Thanks, Papa. But I really doubt those two are ever going to forgive me for breaking up with Asul-Zenza the way I did.”

“This is boring! I don’t want to keep walking around downtown like this. I want to do something more!”
La-Iin ran ahead of the crowd. “La-Iin! Does anyone see where she ran off to?”
“She just went up there, Mit-Sun,” Asul-Zenza said, pointing to the musical district. Mit-Sun sighed and chased after her.
“Harsh as she might be sometimes, you have to give her points for caring about her daughter,” Asul-Zenza said. Verde-Nenda and Anil-Kosha huffed.
“Wait, big sister!”
“Careful, Ei-Tio! The ground has straight cracks in it!”
“…straight cracks?” Beht-Soh questioned.
“We’ve learned to speak Ei-Tio,” Shi-Bara explained.
Mit-Sun and Ei-Tio caught up with La-Iin in the musical district, where she was dancing along to an Usl-Thaehey song that was playing.
“I could tell an Usl-Thaehey song from a mile away.”
Mit-Sun covered Ei-Tio’s ears. “Isn’t this song a little…racy?”
“Mama, come on. Ei-Tio won’t understand it. And she will someday, so who cares?”
“Can I dance too, big sister!?”
La-Iin nodded, and Ei-Tio began to do a wild dance next to her. Mit-Sun couldn’t help but chuckle at the odd sight.
Once the song had ended, Mit-Sun said, “Please don’t run ahead of the group like that.”
“I heard you saying you set up this group for me. I’ll do what I want.”
“La-Iin,” Mit-Sun forced through grit teeth, “Please.”
“I don’t accept pleases!” La-Iin screamed, running ahead of her once again–almost. This time she stopped in place before getting too far off.
“But I will accept food.”
“Fine, fine…”

Mit-Sun had quite seriously contemplated leaving downtown to take everyone to Sunday Daily, but she had decided against it after remembering her prior experience there. ‘Nobody is going to take that away from me. The day I go back I’ll be alone…or maybe I’ll take Papa with me.’
So she instead took them to a restaurant that was fairly out of sight.
“This seems slightly shady,” Asul-Zenza said.
“It was advertising international food. Why shouldn’t we give something non-Vaelis a chance?”
“I already have,” La-Iin said proudly.
“Wow! What is it?” Ei-Tio asked.
“It’s mincemeat pie,” Mit-Sun said before La-Iin could open her mouth. La-Iin glared. “And it happens to be her favorite food.”
“A Vaelis girl with the heart of a Shitosh one,” Verde-Nenda said, ruffling her hair. “How strange!”
“My dominion spreads far past Vaelyn and Shitosh,” La-Iin said. Most of the crowd was confused, but Asul-Zenza just sighed, and Mit-Sun groaned.

The restaurant was fairly tiny, and judging from the reactions of the staff, they had never gotten a group nine people strong. But it was soon evident that they were more than a little excited to serve the large group, though at ordering time there was a little trouble.
“What’s that say?” Ei-Tio asked Jul-Ense.
“Depoisonberry Soup.”
“An’ that?”
“Bloodsauce Spaghetti.”
“What about that!?”
“Stotche…you don’t want that, Ei-Tio.”
“Why not?”
The group sighed. Though Ei-Tio wasn’t the only problem.
“No mincemeat pie? And I only see bloodsauce spaghetti.”
“There are plenty of other blood-related meals on the list, La-Iin. Where are you looking?”
“You realize La-Iin’s reading isn’t perfect, right?”
“She’s lying to you!” La-Iin hissed.
“Do you want me to read the menu for you too, La-Iin?” Jul-Ense offered. La-Iin responded with a hiss.
It did take a while, but sooner or later the group had all ordered. Their food took a while, and most of the time spent waiting for it was used for La-Iin’s family to ask her questions.
“So La-Iin, you like to draw?”
“Yes.”
“What are your friends like?”
“They wouldn’t be my friends if they were bad. And I don’t mean evil.”
“Did you talk to the pumpkiny boy?”
La-Iin narrowed her eyes. Mit-Sun could tell she was getting quickly agitated.
“How about you tell them about wanting to rule the world?” Mit-Sun suggested. La-Iin looked downright offended.
“Those plans are private!”
Mit-Sun sighed. Thankfully enough, the food didn’t take much longer to arrive.
“I’ve always found middle eastern food very interesting,” Asul-Zenza said. “There’s a certain way they season it that makes it delicious. And I love their species-based foods.”
“I heard in the middle east they still cook people!” La-Iin said excitedly.
“Where!?”
“At school. But they only said one place…”
‘Why did she sound so excited about that!?’ Her family wondered.

After eating, the group began to wind down a bit, though it was obvious they still wanted to be out–and Mit-Sun would have agreed, for it felt like they hadn’t done much so far.
‘What can we do to really end this day off on a high note?’ She wondered. ‘Hm…’
“I want to go back to the music district.”
‘I guess that works.’
So Mit-Sun led the way to the music district, though La-Iin several times tried to take the lead from her.
“Why are we going here again?” Asul-Zenza asked.
“La-Iin asked. And anyway, there are some things that can be done there…namely burning all this food off.”
“Hm?”
“I think I know what she wants to do.”
La-Iin smirked. A song by Chehata-Merni had just gone off, and one by Usl-Thaehey had come on.

Day in, day out
Nothing’s ever good enough
Your expectations, set them too high
Keep on trudging, keep on trudging through
It’ll never be good enough for you

New things, old things
Put them all together now
Nothing’s working, better erase it all
And how you put up with yourself
Is something you never ever figured out

What you try, you cannot defy your
Expectations, you set them far too
High, and you wouldn’t give yourself a chance
To just let it go and let yourself f@%k up!

Oh, it needed to be perfect
That’s what you said, that’s what you said
So why aren’t you giving it your all!?

You made your own never ending hell
Your limiters have made you fall
And that’s the inevitable fate of us aaaaaallll!

Day in, day out
Always trying harder
That’s what you tell yourslef
Even if it is a lie

Over, over, over and over again
You never tried doing things your own way!

What you try, you cannot defy your
Expectations, you set them far too
High, and now it’s not the same
The same as failure in your eyes!

Oh, it needed to be perfect
That’s what you said, that’s what you said
So why do you always just slap somethin’ together

You made your own never ending hell
Your limiters have made you fall
And that’s the inevitable fate of us aaaaaallll!

All….

Remove the limiters, remove the feeling
Remove the expectations, remove the result
Thinkin’ in black-and-white
Keepin’ yourself up all night

I realized the errors of my ways
I’m givin’ you a chance to too
But if you choose to stay that way
I’ve only got one thing to say to YOU!

Ah, it’s never good enough!
It’s always never good enough!
You scream about this every night!

What you try, you cannot defy your
Expectations, you set them far too
High, and you wouldn’t give yourself a chance
To just let it go and let yourself f@%k up!

Oh, it needed to be perfect
That’s what you said, that’s what you said
So why aren’t you giving it your all!?

You made your own never ending hell
Your limiters have made you fall
And that’s the inevitable fate of us aaaaaallll!

You live forever, that’s the inevitable fate of us all!

La-Iin started clapping lightly as the song went off. Her family was pleased.
“That was adorable,” Asul-Zenza said.
“You voiced my very same thoughts,” Beht-Soh laughed.
“It was a good exercise, though! That song is intense!” Verde-Nenda said.
“I’m not sure it was the best thing for Ei-Tio to listen to, though,” Jul-Ense said.
“Well, she wanted to. And now she’ll probably want to look around this part of downtown too, if I know my La-Iin.”
“I would be willing to do that. I don’t seem to have given this ‘Usl-Thaehey’ a fair chance. I was always much more intrigued by Sulaet-Defka.”
“Though even we are older than her, hah!”
As expected, La-Iin had taken the lead from her family, but she stopped in place when a new song started.
“Sweet Inevitable Death….” La-Iin smiled.
“She’s going to make us do it again,” Mit-Sun said.
“I’m up for it if she is!” Verde-Nenda said. And the group broke into dancing once more.
“Weirdos!” A Minomix man called out.

—–
After their dance session, La-Iin had introduced everyone in the group–save for her parents, that is–to Usl-Thaehey, to mostly positive but ultimately mixed reception.
“What do some of those words mean?” Ei-Tio had asked.
“La-Iin, I’m not as intense as Jul-Ense is when it comes to….keeping things secret from Ei-Tio, but I’m just not a big fan,” Shi-Bara said.
“Why should I care?”
After eating a large dinner and dancing, however, they were quite exhausted by the time night was high in the sky, and so decided to head back once they reached the front of downtown.
“Did I ever tell you I met Usl-Thaehey once?”
“WHAT!?”
“Actually twice!”
Though that story kept them from leaving when expected.

“Goodbye, La-Iin! We’ll hopefully be seeing you once more soon!” Verde-Nenda said.
“Bye-bye, big sister!” Ei-Tio said.
“Be seeing you, La-Iin. Remember, you’re always welcome to call me!” Asul-Zenza said.
Beht-Soh walked home with Mit-Sun and La-Iin. When La-Iin ran ahead of the two, he took his chance to speak.
“So what brought on the outing?”
Mit-Sun sighed. “I’m alright with La-Iin being evil. A non-evil La-Iin is a disturbing idea to me. But I don’t want her to ruin her life because of that. There are plenty of evil people who live respectable lives for the most part. And I doubt I can keep La-Iin out of trouble on my own. But if I can at least keep her caring for people, then I won’t think I did a completely horrible job.”
“I see.”
Mit-Sun smiled. “And so far, I don’t think I’ve done the worst.”

11.619.Mama’s Party

The La-Iin Series
Chapter 619
“Mama’s Party”

Mit-Sun started the day with a plan.
“Geez, am I crazy, or does it feel like Mrs. Eteibreit has been harder on us than usual?” Leirhyn sighed.
“She has seemed pretty snippy lately.”
“Wonder if something’s goin’ on with the hubbo?”
“I really doubt that. Although I guess it would make sense why she’s this irritable.” Mit-Sun sighed. “Hey, Leirhyn, would you like to come to my house today after work?”
“Huh? Sure, I guess! It’s been a while since I’ve been over. Is La-Iin bigger now?”
“Her wings are still as abnormal-sized as ever, but her body seems to be trying to even itself out a bit,” Mit-Sun chuckled. “Well, thanks. I’m looking forward to seeing you there!”
After talking to Leirhyn, Mit-Sun went over to Uil-Cur’s department and waited for him to finish his shift.
“Mrs. Eteibreit, please–o-oh, Mit-Sun?”
“Hi, Uil-Cur. Looks like Mrs. Eteibreit hasn’t been cutting you any slack either, huh?”
“No, I don’t think she’s been going easy on anyone lately,” he said. “What brings you to my department?”
“I wanted to know if you’d like to come over to my house today. I have plans and I’d love for you to be there.”
“Really? I’d love to, Mit-Sun.”
“Great! Oh, Leirhyn will be there too, hope you don’t mind.”
“No…no, I don’t.” Uil-Cur glanced away from her. Mit-Sun blinked in confusion. “I’d be happy to go, although is La-Iin going to be there?”
“Yeah. But I have a plan to keep her from starting trouble with you, so don’t worry. Well, I’m looking forward to seeing you!”
Uil-Cur nodded. Mit-Sun walked away from him and head for the entrance of Eteibreit Data Storage.

***

“Yeah. Thanks, Papa. Er, father. Hope you make it here early!” She hung up the phone, then almost immediately dialed another number.
“Who are you calling, Mama?”
Mit-Sun startled. “Nobody in particular.”
“Prank calls, Mama? Even I never thought of those. But using your own number seems like a bad idea.”
“It’s not prank calls,” Mit-Sun snapped. Before she could say anything further, someone picked up.
“Hello!”
“Oh, is this Miss Cahongyun? Hello! I thought I recognized the number, heh. What makes you call?”
“I wanted to ask if you three would like to come over to my house today. I figured Ei-Tio could see La-Iin, and you two could come over to relax.”
“Ei-Tio!?”
“Sure, we’d love to! Although you’ll have to wait a bit, we’re having a little trouble with Ei-Tio. Her hair got all matted up and brushing it out has been a nightmare! Jul-Ense’s been working on it for almost two hours!”
“Ooh, that doesn’t sound good.”
“He looks ready to start cursing. You know, I’ve always wondered if it’s some sort of Vampire gene that makes our hair grow ridiculously long. I’ve seen long hair on other species, but it feels like all the Vampires I meet have a ton of hair! Even Asul-Zenza has more hair than I see on people of other species.”
“I wonder,” she chuckled. “I’ve also seen a lot of pictures with Witches and Warlocks who have long hair though, so maybe Vampires aren’t alone.”
“Maybe. Ha ha. Anyway, sure, we’ll come over! See you soon then, Mit-Sun!”
“See you.” Mit-Sun hung up.
“Did you invite Ei-Tio over!?”
“Yes, Ei-Tio is coming over.”
“Why’d you invite her over?”
“You know what today is, right, La-Iin?”
“Yes. Your birthday. I remember because the date sounds perfect for a major evil event.”
“Uh-huh….anyway, I decided that this year, I wanted to spend some time with people. So I’m inviting Leirhyn–you should remember her, the woman who had the same first name as me?”
La-Iin shuddered.
“Uil-Cur–”
“You mean Haner. Not him,” she groaned.
“He’s my friend, and we did make up recently. Anyway. Ei-Tio and her family, my father and the Sanhuuns are also coming over.”
“Don’t you have other friends?”
“Well, Sale-Dessu seems a little shy. Also we haven’t exactly talked recently….”
‘That’s probably for the better,’ La-Iin thought, remembering Eul-Bok.
“And if you’re going to suggest Asul-Zenza, being on better terms does not make me consider him a friend again. That isn’t happening.”
“Huh!”
“You’re welcome to go off and play with Fer-Shi and Ei-Tio. I figure if we don’t get to spend time together during the day, we’ll have after everyone leaves to do that.”
“You’re going to kick everyone out?”
“Uil-Cur has work tomorrow, father is elderly, Ei-Tio is little, and if I remember correctly, Fer-Shi has somewhere to be tomorrow. They all shouldn’t be staying up too late. Leirhyn is a different story, but still, I don’t think it’s fair to kick everyone else out and keep her over.”
“They’ll probably leave on their own.”
“That’s true,” Mit-Sun said with a shrug. “Ah, but well, now we just wait. They’ll be here in time, and then I can get everything started.”
“It’s going to be a nightmare,” La-Iin sighed.
“Why do you say that?”
“Haner.”
“Oh, geez, La-Iin.”

***

After a short while, the guests gradually arrived.
“It’s good to see you in person again, Mit-Sun. It seems like lately we’ve been only talking over the phone.”
“Yeah. I hope you don’t mind, there will be a lot of other people over today.”
“I don’t mind!” Fer-Shi said. “I’ll just be with La-Iin, unless she wants to be with you instead?”
“No. As soon as stupid Haner arrives, I don’t want to be anywhere near her.”
“Haner? Who’s Haner?”
La-Iin opened her mouth to speak, but Mit-Sun interrupted her with “It’s a long story.” La-Iin glared at her.
“Well, I guess we’ll have to wait to find out!”
The next one to arrive was Leirhyn.
“Hi hi, Cahongyun! Oh, you don’t have the house all dolled up? Didn’t you mention something about inviting multiple people?”
“Did I mention that to you?”
“Even if you didn’t, I overheard you talking to Haner about it,” she said with a wink. “So, inviting him over too? You two are such good friends.”
“Yeah, we are. But that doesn’t diminish our friendship, don’t worry.”
Leirhyn giggled. “Aw, Mit-Sun!” She hugged her close.
Beht-Soh arrived next.
“It’s good to see you, Mit-Sun. When was the last time we spent one of your birthdays together?”
“Was it when La-Iin was a baby?”
“Oh yeah, that might’ve been it. I feel like I remember hearing crying. I’m not sure! Oh, but here.”
He handed her a silky dress. “I made that for you. I hope it came out good. I thought maybe you could wear it tonight, or maybe to some sort of formal event.”
“Thanks, Papa.” She examined the dress. “Nicely done! You’ve definitely improved a bit. Although, it’s a little…well…revealing, isn’t it?”
“It is?” He sighed. “Sorry, Mit-Sun.”
“No, don’t worry about it. It looks nice anyway. I think I’ll change into it now.”
Beht-Soh beamed. Mit-Sun head upstairs to change into the dress. Just as she had finished putting it on, she heard someone calling for her.
“What’s wrong?”
“Someone’s knocking at the door,” Beht-Soh said. “Another guest?”
“Oh!” She ran over to the door and nearly flung it open. Uil-Cur was standing there, his eyes wide. He opened his mouth to speak, but Mit-Sun noticed that his eyes glanced at her dress. He recoiled.
“What’s wrong?”
“I…I wasn’t expecting you to be wearing something like that,” he said.
“What, does it look bad?”
“No, it’s, um…”
“Revealing?”
Uil-Cur didn’t respond.
“Damn. Knew I should’ve put something on underneath it.”
“It is a nice dress, though,” he said. “What’s the occasion?”
“It’s my birthday today.”
Uil-Cur’s eyes widened once more; his expression steeled moments later. “Mit-Sun, do you mind if I go and do something quickly?”
“Um, I guess not?”
Uil-Cur flew off. Mit-Sun stared down at her dress. “Well, I suppose I had better change out of this. Or at least put something under it…”

Shi-Bara, Jul-Ense, and Ei-Tio arrived moments after Uil-Cur’s sudden departure; soon after that, Uil-Cur returned with a small cake.
“How did you know I like tea cake?”
“A lucky guess,” he admitted. “But I’m glad.”
The amount of people in the tiny house was overwhelming to La-Iin, so she beckoned to Fer-Shi and Ei-Tio and head upstairs. As the chatter died down, her head began to clear and she gave a sigh of relief.
“There sure are a lot of people in your house right now.”
“Big sister, who’s this?” Ei-Tio asked, pointing to Fer-Shi.
“She’s Fer-Shi. A friend of mine.”
“Hi, Fer-Shi! I’m Ei-Tio!”
“Hi, Ei-Tio! I’ve heard about you before! So, you call La-Iin big sister?”
Ei-Tio nodded. “Me an’ big sister aren’t sisters, but to me we are!”
Fer-Shi giggled. “Well, you’d certainly be contrasting sisters. Oh, hey, La-Iin? Which one of those people was Haner?”
“The stupid Siren guy.”
“Oh. Pureblood male Sirens are pretty rare, aren’t they?”
“Who cares? I’m not looking forward to what goes on down there. I’m looking forward to what might happen soon.”
“What’s gonna happen, big sister?”
La-Iin smirked. “I just had an idea of a little ‘surprise’ I could give Mama. With all the people in the way, doing anything for her would be impossible. And I don’t care about doing anything special for her since I had a good birthday this year, but I figured I might as well give her a surprise.”
“What kind of surprise is it?” Fer-Shi asked.
“It’s better if you hear it for yourself.”
“Hear it?” Fer-Shi and Ei-Tio asked in unison. La-Iin chuckled and dashed into her room.
Downstairs, though the kitchen was crowded, people were enjoying themselves.
“Mit-Sun, who is this man?” Beht-Soh asked.
“This is Haner Uil-Cur. Uil-Cur, this is my father.”
“Your father?” Uil-Cur smiled and bowed. “A pleasure to meet you, Mr. Cahongyun. I am Haner Uil-Cur. A coworker and friend of your daughter’s.”
“Oh, really? Nice to meet you. Is it bad if for a moment there I thought he was your new boyfriend?”
“I think I would have told you already if that were the case, Father.”
“I guess so.”
“Ahaha…ha…” Uil-Cur glanced away from the two.
“So you two are the parents of that little Vampire girl who walked by here?”
“Yes! I’m Ghneckdo Shi-Bara.”
“And I’m Ghneckdo Jul-Ense.”
“That was our daughter Ei-Tio. La-Iin’s become like a big sister to her, so we and Mit-Sun have stayed in touch. We became friends through our daughters, but we’re not the closest.”
“That’s why I was so surprised when Shi-Bara told me she invited us over.”
“We met through our daughters too,” Den-Matsu said. “Small world, huh?”
“Not really, but it does feel like that sometimes, huh?”
“How can you guys say that? I get that the world is big, but not only did you two meet through your daughters, she invited me!”
The Ghneckdos and Sanhuuns startled when Leirhyn popped up next to them. “Um–and who might you be?”
“Leirhyn Mit-Sun!”
Their eyes widened.
“Wow, it’s very crowded in here,” Beht-Soh said.
“It is, but that’s just because our kitchen isn’t used to having eight people in it,” she chuckled. “But I guess we should actually do something, huh? Is anyone hungry?”
“I am, a little,” Uil-Cur admitted. A few others raised their hands.
“Well, I guess we could eat dinner now. I don’t really have much of a plan of what to do today, sorry…I’m just happy to be here with all of you and be able to talk to all of you.”
“That’s fine!” Shi-Bara said.
“Not a problem,” Beht-Soh said.
“That’s cool!” Leirhyn said.
Mit-Sun nodded and went to the fridge to retrieve dinner. “Oh, can one of you get the girls? I think they went upstairs.”
“I’ll go,” Tei-Sheu offered. Den-Matsu followed behind her.
Mit-Sun retrieved the dinners and put them on the table. In the midst of setting them down, she heard a knock at the door.
“Is there another guest, Mit-Sun?” Uil-Cur asked.
“Not that I know of. I wonder what that’s for?”
She went to answer the door, but startled when she heard a shriek from outside. Once it died down, she opened the door.
She caught sight of Asul-Zenza, Eteibreit holding tight to him and looking furious. Her tail was lashing, her wings were flapping, and her claws were out. Mit-Sun had no idea what to make of the sight.
“Finally, you’ve come to the door!” Eteibreit snapped. She got off of Asul-Zenza, who rubbed at his injuries.
“Why did you pounce me?” He asked.
“I’m frustrated and you were the first target.”
“What the hell are you two doing here!? I didn’t invite you!”
“La-Iin told me you wanted me to come to your birthday party,” Asul-Zenza said.
“I came here of my own volition. Don’t think I didn’t overhear what you were talking about at work.”
“Neither of you were invited!”
“Why did La-Iin tell me I was, then?”
“You know how La-Iin is! Do you honestly think I’d want you at my party!?”
“That’s awfully harsh to be to the father of your child,” Eteibreit said.
Mit-Sun let out a frustrated yell. “Are you two going to go away?”
“I’ll go away, if you want your pay docked.”
“What even benefits you to be here!?”
“Oh, I would have left if you had asked me nicely. I was just curious as to why I wasn’t invited, is all. But I don’t like being treated like shit by a sub-par worker.”
Mit-Sun gaped.
“I understand if you don’t want me here, Mit-Sun. I can go.”
“Never mind,” she sighed. “If Mrs. Eteibreit’s staying, you might as well stay too. But I’m going to cut a deal with you two. You’re only staying for dinner. Anything more than that and there’ll be problems.”
“Funny you’re the one saying that,” Eteibreit said.
Mit-Sun turned around to head back to the kitchen when she spotted La-Iin, Fer-Shi and Ei-Tio close behind her. La-Iin was failing to suppress her laughter.
‘Oh, you aren’t going to get away with this.’

Dinner was almost nightmarish to Mit-Sun–mostly due to Asul-Zenza and Eteibreit’s presence, but the amount of people at the table was also confusing to her. La-Iin and Beht-Soh sat closest to her, and both of them seemed to notice her confusion–though their feelings on it were obviously different, as Beht-Soh looked concerned while La-Iin was still struggling to hold back laughter.
“This is a good dinner, Mit-Sun,” Asul-Zenza said.
“Yeah, thanks.” Mit-Sun said dryly.
“It’s sub-par, at least,” Eteibreit said.
“Thanks for the compliment.”
“I think it’s pretty good, Miss Cahongyun!” Fer-Shi said. Mit-Sun smiled. “Thanks, Fer-Shi.”
“It’s better than the poop you usually make,” La-Iin said. Mit-Sun’s eye twitched. “And I’m only saying it that way for your sake.”
“How nice of you,” Mit-Sun said.
“So–Ghneckdo, was it?” Uil-Cur asked.
“Are you talking to me?” Asked Asul-Zenza, Shi-Bara and Jul-Ense. Uil-Cur motioned to Asul-Zenza.
“Oh, yes, what did you need?”
“So, you’re La-Iin’s father?”
“Yes, I am. Or more properly, her Dami,” he said cheerfully. “I don’t come by Bledger often, but whenever I do, it’s usually for her.”
“I see.”
“Why do you ask? Hasn’t Mit-Sun told you about me?”
“I don’t go talking about things like that to everyone I meet, I hope you know,” Mit-Sun said.
“I didn’t figure. But I was wondering. I’ve heard of you before after all, Haner, is it?”
“Me? How?”
“La-Iin told me about you.”
“La-Iin?” Uil-Cur seemed to break into a cold sweat–at least it seemed it should be that way to Mit-Sun. “Ahaha, what a sweet girl…”
“I’d love to converse more with you about this subject, but I highly doubt the dinner table is appropriate for things like this. Especially considering Ei-Tio is here.”
Ei-Tio didn’t seem to notice even when her name was brought up; she was focused on her food.
“It’s really good!” She said. Mit-Sun smiled. “Thank you, Ei-Tio. At least some people are grateful.”
“I was one of the grateful ones and you didn’t care!” Asul-Zenza said.
“Yeah, because I didn’t need you to be grateful.”
“You know,” Tei-Sheu whispered, “they do seem to be pretty close. I wonder why they broke up?”
“I think it’s just playful banter, Tei-Sheu,” Den-Matsu said. Tei-Sheu blushed and went back to eating.

“Alright, dinner’s over. You two remember the deal.”
“What, we aren’t allowed to stay for cake?” Asul-Zenza said.
“Hm.” Eteibreit seemed more concerned with cleaning the fur around her mouth.
“My intention wasn’t to let you two stay this long. Dinner hasn’t even just ended. You two took advantage.”
“Aw, it’s got more of a party feel with them here though!” Leirhyn said. “Oh, but it is your party, so you’re in charge.”
Mit-Sun sighed.
“I’m willing to go, but first I’d like to give you this.”
Asul-Zenza handed her a small box. Mit-Sun opened it. “What’s this for?”
“I don’t know how many pictures you’ve been taking of La-Iin, but I figured you might need a new photo album sooner or later.”
“Huh…”
“Actually, we have a little something for you too,” Shi-Bara said.
Mit-Sun’s eyes widened. After Asul-Zenza’s gift, Shi-Bara and Jul-Ense set down a present, followed by Den-Matsu and Tei-Sheu. Even Fer-Shi and Ei-Tio put presents on the table.
“I don’t have anything for you, though,” Eteibreit said.
“I figured. But, wow! I don’t need all this, you guys. I was just happy having you over.”
“Aw, come on, Mit-Sun. You’ve been a good friend to us over the years.” Tei-Sheu said.
“And we might not be the closest, but you were really consoling a month and so ago,” Shi-Bara said.
“An’ you take good care of big sister!” Ei-Tio said.
“Don’t go making assumptions, Ei-Tio.”
“You’re really nice to me, Miss Cahongyun. I just had to make you a little something!” Fer-Shi said.
“You might treat me poorly, but at least La-Iin isn’t suffering.” Asul-Zenza said.
“Why are you all praising Mama? You must be crazy.”
“Looks like you have a lot of friends, Mit-Sun,” Beht-Soh said. “I’m glad. You really do deserve it.”
Mit-Sun’s face flushed slightly. “Thanks, everyone. It’s been a good day.”

Despite her earlier reservations, Mit-Sun allowed Asul-Zenza and Eteibreit to stay for the cake. Though some people had to take smaller slices due to the extra two attendants–the small slices of which went to them and the children–the cake was still enjoyed by all.
Except for Jul-Ense and La-Iin, in any event. Mit-Sun noticed that La-Iin was scraping off the frosting and that Jul-Ense’s nose was wrinkling as he ate the cake.
But it was enjoyable all the same. ‘I really am loved.’

—–
“I’ll be seeing you on Monday,” Eteibreit said.
“We hope we’ll see you again soon!” Shi-Bara said.
“See you soon, Miss Cahongyun!” Fer-Shi said.
“Stay safe, Mit-Sun.” Asul-Zenza said.
“Asul-Zenza makes a good point. Talk to me again soon though, okay?” Beht-Soh said.
“Happy thirty-six, Mit-Sun. I’ll see you Tuesday.” Uil-Cur said.
“See ya, Cahongyun! We’ve gotta get in touch again soon.”
Once everyone was gone, Mit-Sun relaxed on the couch. La-Iin joined her.
“I don’t appreciate you inviting Asul-Zenza over, you know.”
“He made the party more fun.”
“What, it wasn’t fun with father and Fer-Shi and Ei-Tio?”
“Haner reduces the quality of any party by a significant amount.”
Mit-Sun rolled her eyes.
“Was it a good birthday?”
“Yes, it was.”
“Damn.”
“La-Iin…”
“No, that’s fine. I guess it’s fine if you have a good birthday. Oh, by the way.”
La-Iin handed her a picture. Mit-Sun was surrounded by the attendants of the party–most of them, anyway. “Me and Fer-Shi took this picture while you weren’t looking. She said I should give you something.”
“Thanks, La-Iin.”
“Thank Fer-Shi. I need no thanks. Happy old-day, Mama.”
“Geez, La-Iin…” Still, Mit-Sun couldn’t stop her smile.

6.614.The Predicament and Melancholy of Blooudine

The La-Iin Series
Chapter 614
“The Predicament and Melancholy of Blooudine”

Asul-Zenza flew through the night sky, checking around him for any other fliers and for his destination. He didn’t spot any fellow Vampires, but the light of his destination was soon visible on the horizon, and he picked up speed towards it.
He made his landing and head inside.
The hospital didn’t seem to be all that busy even though it was the time of night most Vampires would usually be out. ‘I suppose that’s a good thing…’ The only Vampires he saw in there was a mother and her child, and the Vampire sitting at the reception desk.
“Hello, sir,” she said.
“Hello. I’m here to see–”
“Mrs. Blooudine Sae-Ah, correct? I’ve seen you around enough lately. Go ahead.”
“Thank you.” He turned away from her and head for Blooudine’s room. He found himself shivering more than once on his way there. “It feels like Winter in here. They could at least take care to adjust the temperature properly…”
“Asul-Zenza?”
It seemed he had been heard before even going in. He opened the door to her room and tried to give her his most reassuring smile.
“H-hello, Mrs. Blooudine.”
Blooudine was facing him, but she looked a lot different than he was used to. Though she wasn’t in any immediate danger from her infection–and indeed the Vampires at the hospital had already mostly eradicated it from her body–it was evident she was feeling the effects, and there was a dark look in her eyes.
That, he felt, was not because of her sickness.
He pulled up a chair and sat down next to her. “I know I’ve been visiting a lot lately, but I can’t help but be concerned.”
“Don’t be,” she muttered.
“You understand why. …has your family been by recently?”
“Asul-Zenza, dear, I understand you have the best of intentions, but don’t talk to me about my family.”
He gave an empty chuckle. “Not in the best of moods, I can tell. Anything I can do to bring your mood up?”
“No.”
Asul-Zenza sighed. “Well–um–damn, I suppose I didn’t do all that many noteworthy things over August–”
“Don’t bother, Asul-Zenza. You don’t have to waste your time in this cold place. Just go home and enjoy the night.”
“Mrs. Blooudine…”
Blooudine didn’t respond.
“Please, Mrs. Blooudine, there has to be something I can do for you. Anything. I can’t leave in good conscience knowing this was the mood I left you in, so if there’s just one thing–”
Blooudine took a deep breath. “That’s right, I did tell you about that, didn’t I…”
“Tell me about what, Mrs. Blooudine?”
“Asul-Zenza, would you be willing to hear an old lady out? For in hindsight, I realize my problem is one that you know about.”
“I’d be more than willing to,” he said. “Please, then, tell me what is wrong.”
Blooudine sniffled. “Mrs. Blooudine?”
“Ever since Rei-Fourse died, I’ve had too much time to think to myself,” she said. The dark look in her eyes only intensified. “And I’ve been thinking about him, him and Vertuo-Nenda…”
“Vertuo-Nenda?”
“Please don’t make me go into more explanation than I need to, Asul-Zenza,” Blooudine sighed. “That Vertuo-Nenda. As in the one I had my affair with…the one I never mustered up the courage to talk to Rei-Fourse about. And now he is dead. And most would tell me to just leave it in my past now that my husband is gone, but there is still a relic remaining.”
Her words clicked in his mind. “Ta-Mane.”
“Yes, her. But do you know how horrid that would be of me!? If I called Ta-Mane just to tell her that the man who died wasn’t really her father? You realize, until I told you about this last year this secret was all mine. Rei-Fourse, Ta-Mane, Vertuo-Nenda, not even an outside party–I never told them any of this. Vertuo-Nenda I left and he believed nothing came out of our time together. In all these years since he’s never contacted me even once. And Rei-Fourse and Ta-Mane have never doubted that they were father and daughter. Even what I can see of him in Ta-Mane’s children, she chalked up to her husband’s side of the family.”
Asul-Zenza felt slightly unsettled. “So if everyone is happy, and they have no reason to doubt me, why, then, should I bother resurrecting this? Because I’m guilty! I never told my husband about what I did! I never told Vertuo-Nenda he had a child! I’ve never told Ta-Mane her father is someone else!”
A passing nurse peeked into Blooudine’s room. Blooudine settled.
“Mrs. Blooudine…sorry to interrupt you, but how do you know for sure that Ta-Mane is not Rei-Fourse’s?”
“Timing, Asul-Zenza. There is no way Ta-Mane could be Rei-Fourse’s. And if you saw Vertuo-Nenda, and compared him to Ta-Mane, you would be able to tell. I only wish Rei-Fourse had been able to. His divorcing me would have been well deserved. I’m sorry to speak with you about all this again, Asul-Zenza. But the guilt has been gnawing away at me.” She relaxed in her bed. “Maybe I’ll get lucky and nature will make the decision for me soon enough…”
Asul-Zenza scoffed.
“Asul-Zenza?”
“I’m sorry, Mrs. Blooudine, but I’m not going to stand for your attitude.”
“Wha?”
“An affair is a serious matter! When you first told me of it, I didn’t know what to say, but after this discussion my feelings are clear. It’s bad enough already that you did what you did, and that it went as far as it did, but you have a child who is not your husband’s and not from before your marriage. She deserves to know, even if the truth is painful. You already feel guilty enough for not telling Rei-Fourse, and there is no way of knowing if Vertuo-Nenda is even still alive. Besides, with the advances in technology nowadays, there is no guarantee she will not find out herself, and what would be worse for you?”
“Asul-Zenza…it’s a losing situation. Either I let the guilt eat away at me until the day I die, or I risk losing Ta-Mane’s love. Of all our children Ta-Mane was the one I would say was closest to Rei-Fourse. It will hurt her, even moreso now that Rei-Fourse is gone!”
“Mrs. Blooudine, you’re thinking mostly of yourself here. Otherwise I’m certain that Rei-Fourse would have known before he died. Let me give you my take on the situation. I am going to imagine if Mit-Sun and I were in the same situation you were in. If I found out that she had had an affair, I would be upset regardless. But if she came to me right away and was honest, I would find it more in my heart to forgive her than if I found out later on by myself. Especially if she was still continuing it…
“And as for children…if I found out that La-Iin was not my child…” Asul-Zenza shook his head. Just the idea was painful to him. “It’s one thing if you never knew that. It’s completely different if you believed that for years on end only to find out much later….the pain is worse now because you didn’t say anything right away. Mr. Blooudine was a very kind man. If you had told him about your affair, if you were honest, I’m certain he would have tried to work it out with you instead of divorce you. And you would have been lucky considering that an affair is incredibly reasonable grounds for divorce.”
Blooudine’s expression was pained, and for a moment Asul-Zenza wondered if he should have spoken at all. “I…I don’t mean to hurt you with this, Mrs. Blooudine. But you always gave me advice, and I could just imagine how I would feel if I was in Mr. Blooudine’s shoes–”
“No, don’t sound apologetic, Asul-Zenza. You’re right. I’ve made a big mistake. My own guilt is evidence of this…but…I already feel horrible enough that I did not tell Rei-Fourse! Even if I tell Ta-Mane, I don’t think that guilt will go away! And what of Vertuo-Nenda? Is he still alive, unaware of his daughter and grandchildren and great-grandchildren? I’ve caused such a mess…”
“The choice is in your hands as to whether or not you want to speak up, Mrs. Blooudine. But my advice to you is that you do. If you feel this much guilt over never telling Rei-Fourse, then it’s best you remedy the one person you can talk to. And…I can’t be nice about this, I’m sorry. But if she grows to resent you, that is your own fault.”
Blooudine sighed. “I…I’m really sorry, Mrs–”
“Don’t. I understand.” Blooudine smiled. “It’s not easy for me to consider doing this. But your advice is definitely good. You’ve come a long way, Asul-Zenza. I had believed, with your personality, that you would tell me that it would all work out so long as I was gentle about it or something. But I underestimated you. You understand the weight of this situation. …you haven’t been in it yourself, have you?”
“Heavens no. But if I was, I am almost certain I am right on how I would feel. Honestly, the thought of it is enough to put me off dating moreso than I already am…”
“Alright.” Blooudine sighed. “I’ll see if I can at least work up the muster to write Ta-Mane a letter about it. And perhaps, who knows, Rei-Fourse has been watching me the whole time. But I can’t expect everything to turn out happy after what I’ve done.”
“…”
“…”
“…w-well, I should probably get going right about now,” Asul-Zenza said. “I have a job in the afternoon, so I’ll have to get to sleep earlier than normal.”
“Take care, Asul-Zenza. And…thank you.” Blooudine gave him another smile. “Young Vampire or not, you have the maturity of one who is fully grown. And you’ve proven you have more maturity than I do. Continue on this way, and never let your feelings cloud you from telling people the truth.”

—–
Before he went to sleep that night, Asul-Zenza found that his mind was swarming with thoughts.
‘I can only imagine what it would feel like for Mr. Blooudine and Ta-Mane to learn the truth. It would probably hurt…’
Even now he felt as if he shouldn’t have had the conversation he did with Blooudine. But one thought eased those concerns, at least slightly.
‘But it’s for the better. If she tells Ta-Mane now, then she won’t have to learn through some other external source. And I think that would hurt even more than her mother telling her.’
He sighed. ‘Mit-Sun, for all your foibles, I’m glad that you were at least faithful to me.’

18.595.The One Who Brings my Enjoyment

The La-Iin Series
Chapter 593
“The One Who Brings my Enjoyment”

“So did you hear the rumors about Mrs. Eteibreit and her husband? Like how they’re in an open relationship!?”
“I think I already knew that was the case…”
“Guess you’re not much of a gossip type, huh, Cahongyun?”
“Not really. I guess I’m curious about a few people, but when it comes to Mrs. Eteibreit, I’d rather not hear about her.”
Leirhyn chuckled. “Yeah, I guess you’d rather not. Ooh! Ooh! But did you hear that apparently they have threesomes?”
“Not surprised.”
“How about if I told you they did things way more extreme than that?”
Mit-Sun’s face flushed and her mouth hung wide open.
“Certain people shouldn’t be gossiping about their employers if they want to keep their job.”
“Eek! M-M-Mrs. Eteibreit! Ahaha! Sorry if it seemed gossipy! I just wanted to bring it up! I totally support your decision to be in an open relationship and all that weird shit!”
Eteibreit smacked Leirhyn with her tail. “I can tell when someone’s being genuine and when they’re being disingenuous. You have to learn it when you’re a Succubi, after all…anyway! I don’t appreciate that kind of talk!”
Eteibreit clapped her hands and flew off. Leirhyn rubbed the back of her head. “Damn it…why do you look so surprised, Cahongyun?”
Nearby the two women, Uil-Cur sighed. ‘Oh, just some time ago that would have been us talking together after work about their strange relationship. Why did I have to go and mess it up? But maybe this is for the better. After all, this pain will subside, in due time…’
“Having love troubles, are we?”
Uil-Cur flinched. “Uh–uhm–y-you misunderstand, Mrs. Eteibreit! Ha ha, I was just going to work overtime…”
“God, my employees are such liars!” Eteibreit yelled. Uil-Cur flinched. “Be honest with yourselves for once, will you!?”
“Um, Mrs. Eteibreit? Are you in a worse mood than usual?”
“If I am it’s due to the incompetence of my workers!” She smacked him on the head with her tail. Uil-Cur groaned. “Please, Haner. Your desperation is painfully obvious. I’ll cut you some slack and tell you this: I certainly don’t speak for all women, however…I do know that there are quite a few women who don’t go for men who act the way you are right now. There is a niche for it, I’ll give you…but Cahongyun can be painfully average at times, so I’d doubt she’s like that.”
Uil-Cur lowered his head. “I already know she doesn’t feel the same way I do.”
“That’s true. And maybe it’ll stay that way. Perhaps things are worthless. But if you’re wanting to try again with her, instead of acting like a wimp do something about it. Cahongyun might not feel the same way as you do romantically, but I would be incredibly surprised if that applied likewise for how she feels towards you platonically. If you were willing to throw caution to the wind to confess, why can’t you do the same for trying to rekindle a friendship?”
“…”
“You have no experience.” Eteibreit walked up to him and placed her tail on his chin. “Mask that fact by acting like you do.”
Eteibreit flew off, her tail and ears twitching as if she were angry. Uil-Cur turned his attention back to Mit-Sun and Leirhyn, who were now talking about a much more mundane topic.
‘It’s been over a month. That’s not that much time. Maybe I should try again, but what if it ends out that she doesn’t want anything to do with me anymore? After the way I treated her last time we spoke, I wouldn’t blame her…’
Watching Mit-Sun was almost too painful for him to bear. ‘What do I do…’

***

Mit-Sun stretched. “It was nice talking to you again, Leirhyn. You and I have a really sporadic meet-up schedule.”
“Ah, it doesn’t matter if we do! We’re that kind of friend where we can not meet up for ages and still have something to talk about!”
“Yeah, you did say something like that before, didn’t you?” She stretched again. “I’ve been feeling good lately, though. Meeting up with you just adds to that.”
“I’m glad!”
“I should probably get home now, though. It’s still August after all, and I’m always wary about leaving La-Iin home alone. Well, I’ll see you tomorrow, Leirhyn.”
“See ya, Cahongyun!”
‘It sure was nice to talk to Leirhyn again,’ she thought. ‘She definitely has a more active life than I do. But that’s not a bad thing! I do plenty in life!’
When she passed by Eteibreit’s office, Mit-Sun picked up her pace. As soon as she was almost out the building, someone landed in front of her.
“Eek!”
“I’m sorry!” Uil-Cur said, evidently flustered. “I didn’t mean to scare you!”
“Uil-Cur?” Mit-Sun took a deep breath. “You almost scared my soul out of me…”
“I’m really sorry, Mit-Sun. I just had to catch you before you left.”
“Why? You didn’t want to talk to me last time I approached you.”
Uil-Cur’s face twitched. “Yes, that’s true. And I know I probably hurt your feelings with that behavior….but I had to approach you now, because, well….I want to be friends again, Mit-Sun!” He grabbed her shoulders.
“What? I thought we were still friends.”
“I…I wasn’t sure if you felt that way or not,” he said. With a nervous chuckle, he let go of her shoulders. “I saw you talking with Leirhyn and I just remembered all those fun times we used to have together…it’s my fault we’ve been distant lately. I should have taken your words to heart and not let it affect me, your rejection I mean, but I did, and we missed time together because of that. I’m sorry. But I do still want to be friends with you.”
“Uil-Cur…” Mit-Sun sighed. “It’s fine. I was a little upset at the time, but it’s kind of unreasonable to expect you to go back to normal after I told you I didn’t feel the same way. So it’s no big deal. If you want to go back to the way we used to be, I’d be glad to do that. I’ve missed you lately, anyway.”
Mit-Sun smiled wide. Uil-Cur almost couldn’t bear to face it. ‘Mrs. Eteibreit is right on one thing, I really have no experience here…’ “W-well, with that settled, what would you say to going out someplace sometime soon? A theater nearby is going to be performing Vampire’s Stabmist. I can get us tickets to see it.”
“Sure, why not? Although if it falls through, La-Iin and her friend Fer-Shi probably wouldn’t mind putting it on for us.”
“I think La-Iin would definitely mind putting it on for me…” He cleared his throat. “Well then, see you tomorrow?”
“See you tomorrow, Uil-Cur! And thank you! I’m looking forward to hanging out together again!”
As soon as Mit-Sun ran out the building, Uil-Cur clutched his chest tight. ‘No, don’t start regretting it now, Uil-Cur. The pain of seeing her smile is a lot less than the pain from being apart from her….’
“What are you doing, Haner?” Eteibreit asked. Uil-Cur spread his wings.
“Heading home!” He flew out the building. Eteibreit shook her head and sighed.

—–
When Mit-Sun came home from work, La-Iin was sitting on the couch, Choungetsu next to her and lying on his back. Her glare was evident right away.
“Don’t look so angry.” Mit-Sun smiled. “Hey, La-Iin, what’s something you’d like to do?”
“Huh? World domination.”
“That’s not world domination.”
“Play a brand new video game.”
“…anything that wouldn’t be impossible right now?”
La-Iin pouted. “Continue my blood tests…”
“Want to go out and get some blood boxes, then?”
La-Iin’s eyes widened. “Has something snapped in your brain, Mama?”
“No, I’m just happy.” She smiled. “I realize there’s a lot in life for me to be grateful for. I’m just trying to look on the positive side, and it seems to be working for me.”
“Okay?”
“Let’s go get some blood boxes, then. Get dressed first.”
La-Iin flew off the couch and into the kitchen. Mit-Sun was too happy to call her out on it.

16.593.The Sewmaster

The La-Iin Series
Chapter 593
“The Sewmaster”

“Ah huh…she’s coming out nicely.”
Mit-Sun pulled the needle through the fabric once more. Finally, the project she was working on was beginning to take shape. She still felt iffy about the eyes, but figured it was fitting enough for a simple doll for a baby.
Nearby her, La-Iin was still fast asleep in her crib. Even if she hadn’t been, Mit-Sun knew she wouldn’t have been able to see the work-in-progress doll even so.
“I wonder if I should give her a name, or let La-Iin give her one…” Mit-Sun shook her head. “That can wait. For now, I just need to focus on completing her.”
The doll was beginning to come to life, and Mit-Sun could only hope that La-Iin would take well to her.

***

“My last name is too complicated!”
“Why are you complaining about this now?”
“I was thinking about what I might do if I could get married in the future. Do I end up tacking another last name onto Haunsum-Cahongyun or do I just give it to the lucky lady? What kind of screwy last name is that anyway!?”
“Your last name, dummy. Besides, I mostly just call you Haunsum Bes-Isa. Haunsum-Cahongyun Bes-Isa is only your legal full name!”
“Who cares about legality!?”
“Why do you care so much about your last name all of a sudden!? You can’t even get married! First, you’re a doll, and second, same-sex marriage is ille…”
“La-Iin’s certainly energetic today,” Beht-Soh said.
“Yeah, she’s been arguing with Bes-Isa all morning. …um, anyway, let’s not focus on her for now. I don’t think we could get through to her if we tried.”
Beht-Soh chuckled. “You’re the La-Iin expert. Oh, so, I’m sorry it took me so long to finish these, but I don’t think they would fit her anymore anyway. I forgot to ask you for her measurements, and even then it looks like she’s grown since the last time I saw her.”
“Yeah, she’s been getting taller lately. That’s a good thing, though. For a little bit I was worried she was going to stay that small her whole life. Or at least for several years…”
“There’s nothing wrong with that. It would have made it possible for her to fit these dresses. Well, here they are.”
Beht-Soh laid his dresses on the coffee table. Mit-Sun’s eye twitched. Though the dresses were well-constructed, she could tell that they definitely wouldn’t fit La-Iin–in fact, she found it hard to see how they would fit anyone bigger than a small baby.
“Um, Papa…”
“Papa?” La-Iin questioned. Mit-Sun’s face flushed. “I meant, Father…
“You’re welcome to call me Papa, you know?”
“Can we just drop this? A-anyway, these are very nice dresses, but how did you even begin to think these would fit La-Iin?”
“I told you, I didn’t get her measurements. And even though I know what she looks like now, I still can’t forget those pictures you sent me of her when she was a little baby.”
“This one doesn’t even have wing holes!”
“I….sorry….”
“Father, it’s just constructive criticism. You don’t need to apologize for it.”
“I shouldn’t have wasted any time making these, though.” Beht-Soh’s eyes were clear, but to Mit-Sun, his expression looked as if he was about to cry. Before she could console him, however, his attention turned to La-Iin, or rather, her clothes.
“Are those store-bought or did you sew those yourself?”
“Those? I made them.”
“Wow…”
“Father, it isn’t that you’re bad at sewing. These are well-constructed and all, they’re just too small for what you wanted them to be used for. It’s not that big a deal. Lots of the clothes I made for La-Iin when she was younger don’t fit her anymore. I guess I should probably do something about them someday…”
“Can I see some of the other outfits you’ve made for La-Iin?”
“Um, sure, I guess.”
“Granddami, you shouldn’t take Mama’s criticisms sitting down! Stand up to her! Oh, that would be so satisfying…”
“No, your Mama is right, I did make them too small for you to fit them.”
The conversation continued, but Mit-Sun didn’t hear the rest of it. She head upstairs, into La-Iin’s closet, and pulled out various outfits she had made for her; then she head downstairs and laid them on the coffee table.
“You’re welcome to look at all of them as long as you like. And if you want, I can let you take one home.”
“That was in my closet!” La-Iin shrieked. “You went into my room!?”
“I do all the time,” Mit-Sun said, an edge to her tone.
“La-Iin certainly seems like a handful sometimes,” Beht-Soh said absently. He was staring closely at a dress that was purple, orange and black; Mit-Sun noticed that La-Iin was also staring closely at it.
“Wow, this is really well-made. Your sewing skills are amazing, Mit-Sun! How did you get them to be so good?”
Mit-Sun began to feel shy. “Well, I had a lot of spare time when La-Iin was a baby…after Asul-Zenza left, well, La-Iin was just a baby. So I was up a lot, and I didn’t have a job to go to, and of course she wasn’t awake all the time. I wanted to be cautious with funds, so I figured it would just be easier to make her clothes myself. Also, I had been sewing before that.”
“Wow.”
“I haven’t been sewing as much lately, but I was working on a new dress for La-Iin since she’s getting taller. In fact, that dress you’re wearing right now is getting a little short.”
“No it isn’t!”
‘Why is she so indignant about that?’ “I do enjoy sewing.”
“Some of these use different materials too.”
“I try to not try and make the same type of dress over and over again. If I buy enough, the overall cost of supplies usually ends up as less than the cost of buying her store bought dresses. Although I do still get her store bought ones sometimes.”
“So La-IIn, which dresses do you like better? Mit-Sun’s or the store bought ones?”
La-Iin blinked. “My favorite dress is one Mama made…”
Beht-Soh smiled. “Even La-Iin likes your sewing skills.”
“Come on…there are people better than me.”
“You made her little doll Bes-Isa too, didn’t you?”
Mit-Sun felt her face flush. “Now you’re just complimenting me for the sake of complimenting me.”
“No, I’m really impressed. Besides, we’re family, and you gave me criticisms, so why shouldn’t I? But I can’t find anything to criticize. You really are good at sewing, Mit-Sun. You might even be able to make a business of it if you wanted to!”
“Y–you think so?”
“No. Mama’s sewing skills are for me only.”
“Well, maybe she’d like to keep it that way. I’m just saying, if you ever wanted to, you probably could make a business of sewing. Your skills are very near professional.”
“Thank you…wait, near professional? What do you mean by that?”
Beht-Soh began to look flustered. “Well, there are a few parts where the fabric clashes a little on some of the dresses…but it isn’t anything all that bad. I’m sure it doesn’t bother La-Iin.”
“Actually this dress is a little itchy.”
Mit-Sun smiled. “Well, of course these things aren’t always going to end up perfect. Thanks, Papa. I never thought of it that way. It is something for me to think about, though. Maybe if I can, I can actually quit Eteibreit Data Storage!”
“No!”
“But I’d need to think on it more.”
“Oh, of course. But I’ll definitely be taking cues from you from now on. Maybe I can make La-Iin a dress the same quality of one of yours.”
“Granddami, except for a select few dresses you’d probably make better dresses than Mama.”
“Hey!”
“Nah, I doubt that’s the case. Mit-Sun’s good at this. And I’m very proud of that.”
“Thank you, Papa,” she said quietly.
“You should keep your sewing only for me,” La-Iin grumbled.
“Maybe if I do decide to start sewing professionally, I’ll do stuffed toys instead,” she said. “But don’t worry, La-Iin. For now, my sewing skills are still for you. I do have to think on this more, after all.”
“Yes, you do. And so do I…”
“Huh?”
‘I never did think of that part of Mama’s skills, did I?’ La-Iin realized. ‘I could use her for more than just a slave to torture. Even though she’s been mean to me, she does have good sewing skills. She could make something nice for me, San-Kyung and our children. Maybe even a wedding dress…’
“Are…are you smiling?”
“See, I told you, even La-Iin likes your skills.”
Mit-Sun’s face flushed a deep shade of red. “You two are flattering me too much.”

—–
“Now that the doormat’s left, I demand answers! Who the hell gave me this stupid name Haunsum-Cahongyun!? How come it isn’t just Cahongyun!?”
“Because it isn’t.”
“Who did call you Haunsum-Cahongyun? I honestly don’t remember. I feel like Bes-Isa was my idea…”
“I think I’m going to be sick.”
“Haunsum-Cahongyun sounds familiar to me, and not just because I know Bes-Isa.”
“I guess we’ll never know, unless we can find some proof from the past.”
“If I find out that woman named me, I want you to do one of two things, La-Iin. One, change my name, or two, burn me.”
La-Iin gave no response; to Bes-Isa, her quietness was unsettling.

29.575.Day of Business

The La-Iin Series
Chapter 575
“Day of Business”

Asul-Zenza stared at the table. Sitting on it in piles was all the vuyong he had.
Early that day he had gotten the idea to surprise La-Iin with a new dress. ‘She’s starting to get a little bigger. Sooner or later she’ll outgrow her current dresses. And while Mit-Sun sews her new ones, she can wear my dress!’
He was quite surprised to see such a small pile of vuyong.
‘I haven’t been spending that much, have I? So why do I have so little? Wait a moment…’
Asul-Zenza thought back on the last time he had done a job. He recalled hearing someone that day commenting on how they were not looking forward to Summer.
‘Spring…’ He sighed. ‘This is not good. I thought I was good at keeping an eye on my funds. Evidently not…’
He stood up. ‘Well, I won’t get anywhere moping about this sad pile! My only option now is to find a job I can do. And I think I know just where I can go for that.’

***

“You want to help me with the stand?”
“Yes! I figured you don’t get much help, so I thought I might help you.”
Perule-Cheuse scratched the back of his neck. “I don’t mind, but ah, you realize there ain’t much work to be done ’round here? I don’t understand why ya’d want to…” He narrowed his eyes. “Wait a sec, you ain’t lookin’ for vuyong, are ya?”
“What makes you think that?”
“Don’t think I don’t know you, Asul-Zenza.”
Asul-Zenza scoffed. “I guess you do…alright, I’ll help for free, then. After all, it doesn’t look like there’s anyone around here.”
“Hey. If yer gonna do that, just tidy up the stand a little for me. I’m not askin’ ya to actually serve anyone anything.”
Asul-Zenza nodded and began to reorganize the cart and wipe off stains. ‘No wonder he gave me that look. There really isn’t anything to do here. I feel like a jerk. There are other places I could have found something to do.’
“Alright, it’s clean.” He spread his wings. “I’ll go looking somewhere else now.”
“Hey, ‘fore you go.” Perule-Cheuse placed some vuyong into his hand. “Thanks for the help.”
“You’re really giving me this?”
“Yeah, sure, why not? Ain’t much though, so you don’t need to thank me. Hope you find something to do.”
“Me too.” Asul-Zenza took off. “Farewell, Perule-Cheuse!”

‘I think what I need isn’t something like one-day work. I could more do with a temporary job. I wonder where I could find that…it always feels so easy to find work except for when you really need it.’
He flew over an area with many small shops, checking if any needed some kind of temporary work. He was surprised to see Niser-Zanta inside of one of the shops, not sitting at a table but instead wearing the work clothes. Curious, he landed and went inside.
“Welcome!” Niser-Zanta’s eyes widened. “Asul-Zenza!?”
“I could say the same! Er, well, you get what I mean. I didn’t know you worked at a place like this.”
“Are you rubbing it in?” He asked. “It’s nice to see you, Asul-Zenza, but even though I’m not busy right now I have to keep up work!”
“I just want to ask you a question. That won’t waste so much time, will it?”
“Yeah, not really, though I’m devoted to my job and I don’t like to take any moment sitting down! Also I get extra pay if I do extra work.”
Asul-Zenza chuckled. “Any of these shops in the area, do they accept someone looking to work temporarily?”
“I’m sure some do. Why? You need work? You never seem like you need work, just that you always do work anyway.”
“You could sort of say that.”
“Makes me wonder how much you’ve been spending lately. Hmm, well, you can always find work if you know where to look. I know there’s a place nearby here where people’ll pay you for things like mowing their lawn or watching their kids.”
“I see. …did you say mowing their lawns?”
“Yup. So if none of the shops are looking for a temporary worker you can always try there. The Vampires there have vuyong to spare. They’re the type who save up and feed their kids only on fresh blood.”
“Those types?”
“Yeah. Don’t go judging them. You like fresh blood too.”
“I know, but always, in a Vampire society? It sounds like some of the Normal tales I’ve heard about Vampires.”
“ALDESDRIN! I see you’re enjoying your conversation, but don’t you have a customer to attend to?”
“Eep!” Niser-Zanta startled and his wings spread slightly. “Yes! I’m getting straight back to work, Miss Chaeiou!”
Niser-Zanta took off towards a table. Asul-Zenza left the building and flew off.
“What, he’s not going to eat here?” Chaeiou said with a sigh.

Feeling slightly desperate, Asul-Zenza opted not to look at the shops nearby first and instead head off towards the place that Niser-Zanta had mentioned. Already as he flew over it, he could spot several Vampires playing outside, many with young children. He began to feel intrusive as if he shouldn’t be there.
Still, it was worth a shot if it would make him any vuyong.
“You want a job to do? Wanna mow our lawn? Most Vampires outside of where I live don’t know how to do that, but ah, we do. I can show ya the ropes if you don’t get it.”
“If you could clean the car, that would be nice.”
‘Car!?’ These Vampires truly seemed non-standard. Asul-Zenza couldn’t help but remember Niser-Zanta’s comment of them seeking out nothing but fresh blood. Seeing them now, they seemed very different from most other Vampires he had met, even modern ones.
“I could really use someone to watch Yani-Teri. If you do I’ll pay you a ton!”
When he had started to ask around about jobs he had only felt worse, flying into a neighborhood and asking for something to do, but as Niser-Zanta had said, they seemed quite willing to give him a job. So he mowed one Vampire’s lawn, cleaned the car of another’s, helped repair a few bits of equipment, and as the sun began to set, watched Yani-Teri for her mother, Ila-Eri.
Right now Yani-Teri was playing with blocks. ‘These Vampires are so very strange. But I’ve gotten a bit of vuyong from the work.’ He sighed. ‘I don’t feel right doing this kind of work. I may have earned the vuyong I needed, but I’m more suited to temporary jobs rather than this kind of work.’
“Wanna play?” Yani-Teri asked.
“Um, I’m not as good at this game as I was when I was your age,” he said.
“Game?”
“Ahm, I mean, this construction.”
Yani-Teri beamed. “I’m gonna do construction when I grow up too!”
She turned back to the blocks. ‘Construction…Mit-Sun used to do that.’ The thought of his former fiancĂ©e made him think of La-Iin. ‘That’s right, the whole reason I was doing this today was because I wanted to buy her a dress.’ He checked the vuyong he had already earned. ‘I think I might be able to afford something cheap. Or, hm, I wonder…’
“Mr. Ghneckdo?” Ila-Eri called. “Oh, there you are. Thank you so much. Here you go.”
“Thank you.”
“Mama!”
Asul-Zenza flinched.
“Something wrong, Mr. Ghneckdo?”
“No…she just reminded me of my own daughter.”
Ila-Eri sighed. “I see. Well, thank you.” Dropping her voice to a whisper, she said, “I’ve been trying to work a high-paying job and balance taking care of Yani-Teri. It is so hard. But it’s worth it if I can take care of her and give her all she wants.”
“I understand that. But don’t spoil her too much, okay?”
Ila-Eri nodded. “See you, Mr. Ghneckdo!”

Asul-Zenza head down to the shops to see if any of them were still open–and if any of them were accepting temporary work. On one he noticed a sign that piqued his curiosity.
“Welcome back, amigo,” Niser-Zanta said. “But this is the abandoned time of night.”
“Niser-Zanta? You’re still here?”
“Yeah, I’m workin’ overtime. What are you here for?”
“Are you actually here to eat this time?” Asul-Zenza spotted Chaeiou out the corner of his eye, arms crossed and staring him down.
“No, I’m here to work. I saw outside your sign about needing someone for August to make your special Sunboiled Eggsweet.”
“Actually, we’re thinking of changing the name, but yes. Do you know how to make an Eggsweet?”
“Actually, I do! I only learned fairly recently, admittedly, but I can do it.”
“So you’re only lookin’ to help us during the August, is that right?”
“Yes, that’s my intention.”
Chaeiou nodded. “Come in tomorrow and show me your skills. Then we’ll talk.”
Niser-Zanta gaped. “You’re looking for work here!? Didn’t you go to that neighborhood?”
“I did. And I earned a bit of vuyong. But I realized I have skills that are better suited for other types of jobs. Looks like we may be working together over the Summer, Niser-Zanta.”
“Is that so?” He smiled. “I guess that doesn’t sound too bad. Here’s to working with you, Asul-Zenza!”
“Here’s to it!”

—–
La-Iin:
Sorry I missed you but it seems you and Mit-Sun were out. I know I know nothing about sewing. My skills are nothing compared to your mother’s, but I wanted to try making you a dress. This is for you to wear when you get a little bigger, but feel free to try it on now!
Until we meet again!
~Ghneckdo Asul-Zenza

“It’s itchy.”
“Geez, he really has no idea how to sew. Still, I don’t remember him sewing before, so I suppose this isn’t too bad.”
“You contemplating Dami? Surprising. I think it’s itchy. You really are the better sewer.”
Mit-Sun smiled. “Thanks, La-Iin. Ah, but as much as I hate to say it, if this is his first or second or so try, it isn’t that bad. Now if he’s been practicing a lot, that’s a different story…”
“That doesn’t make it not itchy.”
“If you want, I think I know a way I can make it itch less.”
“No. For as itchy as it is, it’s from Dami. And in my situation, Dami is a cherished rarity. So I’ll keep it the way it is.” She shuddered. “I don’t know if I’ll wear it anyway.”

25.571.The Daylight Journey

The La-Iin Series
Chapter 571
“The Daylight Journey”

“We’re rooting for you, Asul-Zenza!”
“Yeah, we’re looking forward to seeing your success!”
“Do your best, Asul-Zenza. Good luck.”
As Asul-Zenza flew through the sky, the words of his book club friends rang in his mind. Their words gave him a renewed determination, and he began to fly faster as his destination came into sight.

“It’s too hot outside,” La-Iin panted.
“It is pretty hot, but you’re acting like it’s a hundred degrees.”
“It feels like much more than that,” she gasped. “Maybe an evil heat ray really would be a good idea…”
“Huh?”
“Nothing.”
“I guess you know what they say, though: Vampires and the sun just aren’t friends.”
“We could be friends if I really can make an evil heat ray…ugh…”
Just as La-Iin was feeling she would pass out from the heat, a sudden gust of wind blew into her face and cooled her down. Sighing in relief, she looked up and was surprised to see Asul-Zenza smiling down at her.
“Dami!?”
“What are you doing here now?” Mit-Sun sighed. “Haven’t you intruded enough this month?”
Asul-Zenza opened his mouth to protest, but Mit-Sun spoke faster. “First you take her out for a Vampire tradition, then you come to chastise me about my treatment of her–and I’m grateful, but still! That’s not even counting the times you’ve called her!”
“There’s no sin in calling my daughter,” he said.
“You know, at least the first time you gave a warning and the second was for advice. What the hell–er, heck, is this for?”
“I know about hell already, Mama. I know how to say f@%k too, so why do you care?”
“La-Iin!!”
“Really, La-Iin, you shouldn’t curse so freely,” he said. “Mit-Sun, I apologize for not warning you in advance. I admit that this is my fault. However, I have a good reason for visiting. Do you know what day today is?”
“July the 25th.” Her eyes widened. “Wait a second, oh no…”
“Precisely! And now you see the reason I am here. My intentions are not to intrude upon you as I did last year, but instead to take La-Iin out with me while I have some fun. However, I only intend on keeping her out during daylight hours. I don’t intend on returning her home at midnight.”
He bowed. “I beg of you, Mit-Sun. I understand I’ve been taking advantage lately. I understand that I did not call you first. I am deeply sorry for this. But please, let me have this today. You’ve been far more amicable to me than you have been all the other years La-Iin’s been alive. So please, grant me this?”
Mit-Sun flinched. ‘I remember that expression from when we were dating. He’s trying to get to me!’ She wasn’t swayed, at least not until she caught the smile on La-Iin’s face. She seemed to be thrilled about the idea of going with Asul-Zenza to celebrate his birthday, and she knew that her and La-Iin’s relationship was already having trouble enough without her denying them something that was so important to them.
“Fine,” Mit-Sun sighed.
“Thank you, Mit-Sun!” He hugged her close. Mit-Sun bit his shoulder and he drew back. “Sorry, I got slightly carried away there, heh heh.”
“Do it again and the answer is no.”
“You better be careful, Dami. She might kick you in the penis if she gets too mad!”
Asul-Zenza stared at Mit-Sun. “Just what are you teaching her!?”
“Take my word on this, Asul-Zenza: La-Iin teaches herself and does what she want.”
“You should know that by now, Dami.”
“I know, but–I just–I wasn’t expecting to hear you say that…” His face flushed.
“I’ve know that word for a long time, Dami. It’s nothing new to me.”
Asul-Zenza sighed. “Well, let’s put that aside for now…thank you, Mit-Sun. You won’t be too lonely without La-Iin, will you?”
“Not any more than I already have been lately.”
“Oh, Mit-Sun.” He sighed. “You still have people on your side who aren’t Haner. Don’t you still have your Papa?”
“My father.
“Right, right, father. Anyway, you aren’t alone. I just wanted to say that. And loathe as I am to add this, especially with how much I resented Haner for a time–I hope all works out with him.”
“That’s unusually courteous of you.”
“I think you forget sometimes who played what role in our break-up.” Asul-Zenza spread his wings. “Well, La-Iin, is there anything you need before we go?”
“Only a little something.”
“Get it now, then. I’d like to get a move on as soon as possible.”
La-Iin nodded and ran inside the house.
“She’s so nice to you. I really don’t understand what I’m doing wrong.”
“Honestly, I don’t understand either. But who knows, maybe something will change soon enough.”
“You’re more hopeful about that than I am.”
When La-Iin came back outside, Asul-Zenza stretched his wings. “Right! Ready to go, La-Iin? Oh, and before we go, do you want me to carry you on the flight? This is another long one, after all.”
“Dami, please.” She spread her wings. “I can go at least most of the way, that I guarantee.”
“We’ll see about that one. Well, we’ll see you again soon, Mit-Sun! And, thank you.”
Asul-Zenza and La-Iin took off.
“You’re welcome,” she mumbled to herself.

***

“Dami, where are we going today anyway?”
“We’re going to be in the society I live in.”
“But where are we going?”
“Oh, a few places. Although I warn you, they might not all be interesting to you. And a few of my friends will be there as well.”
“Friends…?”
“Hey, Asul-Zenza! You’re here!”
La-Iin startled and nearly fell out the sky. Asul-Zenza steadied her. Ahead of them were three Vampires.
“And it looks like you managed to bring La-Iin!”
“It’s a pleasure to meet you, La-Iin…um…it isn’t Ghneckdo, is it?”
“No?”
“These are the members of my book club, La-Iin, and some of my friends.”
“My name is Haroudi Lise-Mara.”
“And I’m Nierdan Xelshy-MItter!”
“Aldesdrin Niser-Zanta. I’ve heard a lot about you, but judging by your expression, you haven’t heard a lot about me.”
“I don’t bring up my book club often around her,” Asul-Zenza chuckled. “I much prefer to focus on what’s happening when I’m with her. But, now that we’re all acquainted, I know what we can do first!”
“So you’re taking the lead?” Niser-Zanta said.
“Of course I am! Whose birthday is it?”
Lise-Mara rolled her eyes. “Just don’t act obnoxious, Asul-Zenza.”
The five Vampires took off, with Asul-Zenza keeping the lead. In the midst of their flight, Lise-Mara moved closer to La-Iin.
“La-Iin, was it? Considering your age and wingspan I’m surprised you’ve been able to keep yourself up this long. Or do you live closer than I thought?”
“Don’t underestimate my wingspan, Haroudi,” La-Iin said. “I am my Dami’s daughter!”
Lise-Mara giggled. “That you are! I guess large wings really are a Ghneckdo thing. Well, I hope you have fun.”
La-Iin was beginning to wonder whether or not she had made a mistake, that and what Asul-Zenza told the members of his book club she was like. The group continued onwards as Asul-Zenza picked up speed and La-Iin began to falter.
“Hey, Asul-Zenza! La-Iin’s falling behind!”
Asul-Zenza turned around and grabbed La-Iin out of the sky. Noticing that the members of his book club were watching her, she felt her face flush.
“You did better than you did last time,” Asul-Zenza said as he head back for the lead.
“Of course I did. All I do is improve…”
‘I’m starting to think this was a mistake.’

“What a nice little blood cafe! Do you come here often, Asul-Zenza?”
“Yeah, have you been holdin’ out on us!?”
“Now, now. Besides, I’ve come here before with Niser-Zanta.”
“Yeah, but it’s kind of creepy coming here with only one other person.”
“Well, I had a taste for blood, I had the vuyong, and I wanted to bring La-Iin here.”
La-Iin looked up. Asul-Zenza’s, and the members of his book club, had their eyes focused on La-Iin. She tried to ignore them and turn her attention back to the Goathoof blood in her cup.
“She’s kinda young for a bloodsucker, isn’t she?” Niser-Zanta said.
“Yes, she might be, but you have to remember she’s half-Normal. La-Iin’s aging pace is different than ours.”
“Interesting. I might have to look more into that tonight.”
“Tonight we’ll be busy,” Asul-Zenza said.
“You’re keeping us out that late?”
“I made a promise to Mit-Sun that I wouldn’t keep La-Iin out that late, so not all of us, but as for the rest of you, yes.”
‘There was no point to bringing me here, Dami. You seem perfectly fine with your stupid book club!’ La-Iin kept the retort to herself, but she couldn’t keep her wings from flapping just a bit. She began to suck down the rest of the Goathoof blood.
“Aw, her tiny fangs are so cute,” Lise-Mara sighed. “Maybe I should adopt a child of my own someday.”
“You, as a Floma?” Niser-Zanta said.
“What, do you think I’d be a bad Floma?”
“It’s not that, it just, well…you know what, never mind. If this guy can be a Dami, you can probably be a Floma.”
Lise-Mara beamed. “Thank you very much, Niser-Zanta.”
‘I can’t take this!’ “I want another cup of blood!”
“Certainly, La-Iin. What kind?”
“Vampire–” Asul-Zenza and the book club looked shocked. “I meant, Bearperson!”
“Ooh, a good choice. I’ll go order some!”
“Wow, he accepted that demand pretty easily,” Xelshy-Mitter said.
“Asul-Zenza’s always struck me as a passive Dami.”
‘I can’t take it!’ La-Iin was glad for her expressionless face at that moment. When Asul-Zenza brought back the cup of Bearperson blood, she sucked it down quickly, then tapped Asul-Zenza on the shoulder. He motioned to the book club, then took La-Iin aside.
“What is it, La-Iin?”
“I–um–where else are we going, Dami?”
“Hm? Well, I had some plans to head off on a daylight journey. Just a quick trip around, that and I wanted to stop at a sports center. Why?”
“Just…curious.”
Asul-Zenza smiled. “Thank you so much for coming along, La-Iin. I know it might be strange to adjust to being around me while I’m with friends, but I am so happy for you to be here. I’ve been blessed.”
“Not a problem, Dami,” La-Iin said, nearly hissing. “I–I would go with you any time to get away from Mama at her worst times.”
“Has something happened at home?”
“No, nothing in particular…” La-Iin covered her mouth to stifle the hiss.
“Alright, that’s good. We’re probably going to head off soon, so get ready!”
‘Dammit! If I can’t even stand up to my own Dami, ruling the world’s going to take longer than I expect it to! But then it’s also Dami’s birthday…I’ve become soft since that stupid meth incident!’
La-Iin could imagine several things she would rather be doing, yet still she went along with Asul-Zenza. Her desire to spend time with her father outweighed her frustration, though as the day progressed it wasn’t by much.

After a short journey and a quick trip to the nearby Vampira, Asul-Zenza, La-Iin and the book club had stopped at the sports center and geared up in athletic clothes. Soon after they had, Asul-Zenza began to toss a ball around.
“What game is this?”
“No game in particular. I’m not good with specific sports. I just like tossing balls around!”
“Just like I’d expect,” Niser-Zanta sighed.
La-Iin’s wings began to flap. “As if you know my Dami better than I do.”
“Sorry, La-Iin, but I do have you beat there. I’ve known him since before you were born. I knew him when he was head-over-heels for your mother!”
La-Iin began to look nauseous. “Niser-Zanta, don’t gloat at La-Iin. Both of you know me well for different reasons.”
“Yeah, I know.”
Asul-Zenza flew up closer to the roof of the sports rec. ‘Today has been such a fun day! I see good things on the horizon for sixty-six!’
“Is it strange to live with only one parent, La-Iin?” Lise-Mara asked.
“Why?”
“I was simply curious.”
“…”
“It is more polite to answer, yanno,” Xelshy-Mitter said.
“I don’t do polite unless I feel like it.”
“Guys, you’ve gotta remember what Asul-Zenza said, his daughter’s part of the evil side!”
“The more you say only influences my opinions of you.”
“…”
“…”
“…”
“Uh…”
Asul-Zenza overheard the conversation and caught a glimpse of La-Iin’s back. Her wings were flapping rapidly as if she were agitated. He sighed. ‘Though I guess a birthday can’t be perfect, of course…’
Putting the thought aside, he tossed the ball with his full force. The ball slammed against the floor and hit Niser-Zanta in the face.
“Ow ow!”
“Are you alright, Niser-Zanta!?”
“It looks like he has a bit of a bloody nose,” Lise-Mara said.
“I feel like my teeth broke into my mouth,” he cried.
“Oh goodness, Niser-Zanta, I am so sorry. I did not mean to do that…”
Before Asul-Zenza could approach Niser-Zanta, he noticed La-Iin giggling to herself. It was quiet enough that it seemed none of his friends had heard her, but from his distance it was obvious.
“Now I know for certain that Asul-Zenza is dangerous,” he sighed. “Next time I’ll wear protective gear if we’re going somewhere that’s not the book club…”

***

“The sun’s starting to set,” Niser-Zanta said. “Hey, how far away does La-Iin live? Are you going to be able to get her back home soon enough?”
“I fly fast when I’m determined,” Asul-Zenza said. “Of course, if La-Iin would like to stay out for a little longer, I can always accommodate.”
“No, I don’t mind.” La-Iin broke free of Asul-Zenza’s grasp and flew in the opposite direction of his book club. “In fact, I bet I could fly home on my own with my determination!”
The book club giggled. “You must give her that she is a feisty girl,” Lise-Mara said. La-Iin’s face flushed.
“Well, um, given that, then, I suppose I should take her home now,” he said. “You three can meet me at the border to Vampira. So long as you stay there, I don’t mind where you go. I might be back soon, but it will most certainly be nightfall by that time.”
“Alright.”
“See you soon, Asul-Zenza! Bye, La-Iin!” Xelshy-Mitter said.
“Yeah, see you two. And it was good to get to know you, La-Iin. You’re definitely Asul-Zenza’s kid, that’s for sure.”
“What does that mean?”
Asul-Zenza and La-Iin flew a distance away from his book club.
“So, I can guess by your reactions that you didn’t much care for my friends.”
“No, I didn’t.”
“I suppose that’s fine. I will admit I’m a little disappointed, but I expected this when I invited you out. I’m really sorry if you didn’t have a good time.”
“They see me as a little kid.”
“You are…ah, who am I to speak. I am still very grateful for you coming out in the first place.” He hugged La-Iin close. “Thank you, La-Iin.”
“I did try to hold it in for you, Dami. But they were annoying. …I guess Aldesdrin wasn’t as annoying as the other two, but I really couldn’t stand that Haroudi lady.”
“She can be a bit obnoxious sometimes,” Asul-Zenza giggled. “But thank you again, La-Iin.”
The two head back to Bledger, the setting sun behind them.
“This is the best part so far,” La-Iin said.
“Really? I’ve been having a lot of fun all day.”
“I guess that’s fine. Where are you going after you get rid of me, anyway?”
“Please, La-Iin, when you say it like that it sounds so harsh. That’s not what I’m doing at all. I just don’t want to be kicked by Mit-Sun and she gets angry when I keep you out too late. Also, where I’m going with the book club serves alcohol and they’re a bit rough on young Vampires.”
La-Iin smirked. “That will be hard for you, won’t it, Dami?”
Asul-Zenza gave a small smile. “Of course it won’t be! I’m a fully-grown Vampire, after all!”
“So you say!”

—–
“This place is fancy! How’d you afford it, Asul-Zenza!?”
“By saving up.”
“Really, Asul-Zenza, you shouldn’t be paying on your birthday. Let me foot the bill. I have enough vuyong.”
“Lise-Mara, I couldn’t let you do that!”
“I could.”
“Your blood alcohols.”
A waiter set down glasses of blood in front of the four.
“I heard the alcohol in this is diluted. I sure hope so!”
“Yeah, that’s one sign of how young a Vampire you are: whether or not you can handle your liquor!”
“Well, I’ll show you that I can.”
“Pardon me–” The waiter said. “But may I recommend our special? We have a special blend of blood alcohol today, the “Leukemia Stir”. Would any of you like it? It’s on the house when you buy two or more blood alcohols.”
“…”
“…”
“…”
“Maybe next time we should go someplace else.”
“Excuse me?” The waiter began to look indignant.

17.563.Nothing But a Child

The La-Iin Series
Chapter 563
“Nothing But a Child”

“Gee, you know, it sure feels like we read a lot of more modern books lately,” Xelshy-Mitter said. “Maybe next time we meet, we should read one of the classics.”
“What’s wrong with modern books?” Asul-Zenza said.
“Yeah, they are what’s been coming out recently.”
“The classics were once modern themselves. And there is such a thing as a modern classic, you know.” Lise-Mara said. “The classics are a good place to look. You can find many a good story there, or at least, you can understand how some trope or another became so popularized.”
“You guys haven’t read science fiction until you’ve read classic science fiction. It’s some weird stuff!” Xelshy-Mitter said.
“You guys act like I have something against the classics! You know I don’t, right?”
“I’ve read plenty of the classics myself. How can we guarantee it’s not something one of us has already read?”
“We always go over this, Asul-Zenza.”
“Lise-Mara, I’m starting to think there’s a reason they’re more interested in modern books.”
“Oh?”
“They’re the younger Vampires in this book club, remember? They’re not even one-hundred yet!”
“You aren’t either, you know.”
“Yeah, but I’m ninety-nine. Close enough. Still technically an adult Vampire. Here, anyway. Meanwhile they’re still technically kid Vampires!”
“Xelshy-Mitter, you traitor! Now you’re siding with Lise-Mara when it comes to age? She’s still tons older than you, you know!”
Lise-Mara huffed. “No offense, of course.”
“Yeah, I guess all of us can at least get along in the fact that we’re older than Asul-Zenza.”
“Why are you turning against me now!?”
“‘Cause you’re the youngest,” Niser-Zanta said, flashing a grin. Lise-Mara sighed.
“I’m sure it has nothing to do with age in actuality. But it is true that a lot of more modern works tend to be more popular among younger Vampires. After all, you like Killy Shell.”
Niser-Zanta and Xelshy-Mitter shuddered.
“Ironically enough, even though he’s the youngest of us all, he’s still the only one with a kid!”
“I don’t appreciate you all ganging up on me.”
“Aw, don’t be upset, Asul-Zenza. We’re just having a little fun at your expense.”
“How would you like it if I had fun at your expense?”
“Er–”
“Don’t be hypocritical. How many times have you three made fun of my age?”
“Yeah, but we’re making fun of it for the reverse reason,” Niser-Zanta said.
“Yeah, and besides Niser-Zanta’s basically the only one who calls you old.”
Lise-Mara narrowed her eyes at him, and he flinched.
“I know I’m a young Vampire, but Vampires are young for a long while. And I’ve finished puberty, not to mention I’m technically an adult by Vaelyn’s standards!”
“Vaelyn’s standards are nineteen, Asul-Zenza. And when all four of us were nineteen, we were kind of, you know, kids.”
Asul-Zenza’s face flushed.
“Now, let’s make the decision on what we read next week.”
“Ooh, how about SoPo Wars with Nothing to Do?” Xelshy-Mitter suggested.
“NO!”

***

“Asul-Zenza, I really don’t understand why you don’t visit more often! You do do a lot with your life, but most of it is choice. How come I and your Floma don’t come up often in that choice?”
“Well, I know I can see you and Floma nearly any time I want, Darseen. That and, well, you two are often busy.”
“I understand. And, sorry Anil-Kosha isn’t here to see you.”
“It’s not a problem. I understand. Besides, I didn’t exactly come here for a leisurely visit either.”
“What’s the problem? Still having trouble with the situation with Blooudine? I’m worried about her as well. She seemed to have her heart set on passing alongside him.”
“No, it isn’t that, and you reminding me of that issue makes me think my current problem is worth nothing…”
“It most certainly isn’t worth nothing, Asul-Zenza! Tell me what’s on your mind, son, and I’ll do all I can to help you.”
“…am I really like a child, Darseen?”
“Wha?”
“Earlier today I had a meeting with my book club. Not a book club meeting, just a general meeting, and while we did decide what book to read next….ergh, that’s not the point! The others there started picking fun at the fact that I’m the youngest of them. And I understand that I am still a fairly young Vampire, but damn it, I’m almost sixty-six! They seem to think it’s hilarious that this child-like Vampire already has a child of his own! It frustrates me!”
“That’s all?”
“See, I knew it! You think it’s ridiculous! And I know it is, but–”
Verde-Nenda chuckled. “Asul-Zenza, when you act like that you do seem exactly like a petulant child.”
“What!?”
“Oh, Asul-Zenza, there is a fact you need to face. Vampires and those of other species are different. Even Groundisers are different than us. Do you know why we consider Vampires of, say, twenty-two to be children even though by nearly every other species’ standard that’s adulthood? Even Groundisers who live about as long as us see that as adulthood, and do you know why?”
“Why?”
“Groundisers are typically finished with puberty by twenty-two! Not to mention, it’s also a maturity issue. A Vampire’s maturity isn’t really adult-ready until the hundreds, sometimes not even at the hundreds. While granted this is a debateable issue given nineteen isn’t exactly adult-maturity age for other species but still the legal age of majority in Vaelyn, it still doesn’t change the fact that, really, you are a lot younger than others.”
“…”
“Yes, you have finished puberty, but you’re much shorter out of it than some other people your age–save for other Vampires, of course. And we Vampires do live long. Normals of elderly ages will sometimes call twenty-year-old Normals children, it’s sort of like that.”
“I don’t understand. How come I’m not considered an adult? I have finished puberty, and even if I have immature parts to my personality, doesn’t everyone? I’d consider myself fairly responsible.”
“I would too. And you aren’t really a child anymore. Most Vampires at age sixty-five aren’t running around in diapers still, that perception of us is stupid. But you know what it’s like–just as some of other species consider themselves to be adults at eighteen or twenty or so depending on where they live, Vampires vary as to whether it’s about fifty, sixty or seventy that qualifies as a Normal’s nineteen, for example, if they’re even thinking that young.”
“I see…”
“Don’t get so overworked about it. If you do people will only pick on you more.”
“I understand. I just wish they’d at least call me like an adolescent rather than a child. That’s technically what I am, isn’t it?”
“If you’re going by Vampire standards. But it’s all a matter of maturing. We take longer, so we accommodate in terms of consideration. Besides, at least in my case, it’s hard to see you as an adult when most of my memories are of you as a child.”
“Oh, Darseen, that’s silly.”
“Bah, why should I care? But I can understand your position, Asul-Zenza. I’m practically two-hundred, quite young for a Vampire, and I feel like an old man, heh! It’s easy to feel grown up early when you’re stuck as young for a while. And I’m sure your Floma would agree with me. Now if there’s someone we can actually call old, that would be Blooudine!”
“She’s lived quite the life,” Asul-Zenza sighed.
“Say, since you’re here and this conversation seems just about done, what do you say we go for a quick fly across Vampira? My best time around each part of it is about two hours.”
“Two hours? That sounds ridiculously long. Or are you including stopping?”
“I’d never include stopping!” He said. “So, want to fly?”
Asul-Zenza grinned. “Certainly, Darseen!”

—–
“All of you in the book club might call me young. And I acknowledge that I am fairly young, still. But I will give myself this. La-Iin was not born in the midst of my puberty. I am responsible for myself. I’m more like a Normal who has not reached twenty-five yet. If Normals can be considered adults at nineteen, then I think I should at least be considered a major. But no matter if you all consider me a minor. I know what I am.”
“….um, Asul-Zenza? That was obnoxious,” Niser-Zanta said.
“Yeah, and totally unnecessary. Nobody made fun of your age today.”
“Although someone already made fun of mine,” Lise-Mara said, glaring at Niser-Zanta.
“I know, I just had to say it to someone. I guess in short terms, I’m not going to get upset when you call me young any longer.”
“Let’s see how long you stick to that,” Niser-Zanta said.
“You’ll see, Niser-Zanta. I shall hold to my word.”

“Dami, what did you call for? You never told me.”
“Oh, just something ridiculous. I thought you might get upset if I said what it was.”
“You aren’t going through a Haner situation, are you!?”
“No, of course not! I think I was too burned by Mit-Sun to do that. No, it’s just one silly little thing, one of those Dami things I never thought I’d say. But since you seem to be maturing at the pace of a Normal, I might as well say it. Grow up at your own pace if you want, but don’t grow up too fast, alright?”
“Huh?”
“It’s alright, La-Iin. It’s nothing important. I’ll talk to you again soon.”