Content warning: mentions of abuse
There had been a minor incident the night the Fiers arrived on Mt. Komorebi. Everyone had been bad at traveling down the slopes whether it had been via skis or a snowboard, and everyone had fallen, but Deli’s fall had been particularly bad.
Her father saw her fly, T-pose horizontally, and then crash into the snow, but he continued talking to her sister as if he hadn’t seen anything. Aster offered help as soon as she turned and saw Deli (who said she was fine and went on another run).
Aster: You should have asked if she was okay.
Asher: She’s not a child anymore. She doesn’t like my help.
Aster sighed, but said nothing.
Asher: This is one of those things?
Aster: Yes. You hurt people when you’re inconsiderate.
Once upon a time, Asher had been so callous and awful that others had tried to protect Aster from her father.
One of Aster’s earliest memories was of him being cruel to Adclise. Then, Asher wasn’t married and lived mostly with Aster and her mother, but he often visited his son, Aster’s half-brother, who lived with Adelise. Asher carried Aster (his namesake, his firstborn, his baby vampire, his daughter) almost everywhere with him, so of course she went with him to see her brother.
This time, he’d started arguing with Adelise from before he entered the house. Aster had been too young to understand what they bickered about, but she liked Adelise and thought her father was wrong to be mean. Adelise had been near tears, so Aster told him straight, “When you hurt someone, you should say sorry.”
“I’m not sorry.”
“Okay. You should be sorry and say sorry.” She tried to explain further, “Humans say sorry.”
“I’m not human and I’m not sorry.”
“You hurt someone.” Aster had been really little, but she’d grown up explaining cultural things (the basics of being decent) to her father who didn’t always get them at first. She wasn’t sure why he wasn’t getting this and she wasn’t sure how she could explain it any clearer, but she was trying to come up with another explanation when Adelise interrupted, “Aster, don’t upset your father.” Aster didn’t understand why she shouldn’t. He was wrong? Her mother had told her that if you get upset when you’re wrong, it’s fine because being wrong is often upsetting.
Years later, Aster realized that Adelise had been trying to shield her from her father’s anger. Aster had never thought to be afraid of him, but both Adelise and Asher had grown up in homes where certain children were not valued. Adelise’s parents had threatened and screamed at her and Asher’s younger relative (a sister or cousin) had passed away from neglect when she was a toddler.
Adelise tried to defuse the tension by changing the subject. “I’ll give Aster something she likes to eat. You can get our son from his room and take him outside to play,” Adelise paused, before quietly adding, “where I can see him from the window.”
“No. I have snacks for Aster.”
“She shouldn’t just drink soda and eat cheese crackers.” Adelise felt that only feeding your extremely young child snacks was neglectful. Aster may not have been hers, but it wasn’t Aster’s fault that she had trash for a father.
“It’s fine. It’s normal food. She’s not your daughter.”
“I don’t care. Someone should look after her.”
“Me—I am. Why would I trust you to do it?”
Adelise sighed, “If you don’t trust me, then you actually do realize that you’ve been vile, evil to the extent that you think I have reasons to poison your kid.”
“Absolutely not. I have not been mean to you.” What the hell? Asher was beyond frustrated. Why did she get to call him evil? He liked Adelise and he could not think of a single thing wrong he’d done to her. It wasn’t that he did not trust her because he’d been evil, but in his experience people often treated the daughters of vampires poorly and he did not want to risk Aster. Why did Adelise always think he was doing something wrong? He’d learned a human saying recently that summed up his philosophy: “Play stupid games, win stupid prizes. F??? around (he couldn’t quite remember this part) and find out.” Adelise was clever. He only slightly doubted that if he messed around with her, paralyzing, biting, and/or erasing parts of her memory, that eventually, she would catch on and when his guard was down, he would find out he’d won a prize as stupid and worthless as a stake through the heart. At any rate, he was trying to make sure his daughter was fed.
“Asher, do you not know what—forget it, but if you cared about being even the slightest bit decent towards Aster, you’d give her more than soda to drink.” He did not want to give only soda to Aster, but it was what he had and he knew that it was safe because it was packaged in a way you could always tell if someone messed with it.
Reasoning that Adelise was the type to try to poison him before Aster and that it was better if Aster drank and ate something else, he followed his daughter’s advice, “Sorry.”
Asher: Okay. Got it. I’m trying.
Aster: I know, but sometimes the way you try—I just worry that if you’re not more careful about things like this, you’ll lose Adelise. I love you, Dad.
The next morning, before tackling the bunny slopes with Elmire, Asher made it a point to talk to Deli, without mentioning anything about plasma or vampires.
Back at the vacation rental, after playing the piano, Elmire discovered the karaoke machine.
It quickly became all she wanted to do.
Deli was less enthusiastic about singing non-stop.
That night, perhaps trying to be sweet, Asher asked his wife to watch a movie with him.
Moonlight Massacre III.
Adelise wasn’t too keen on his choice of movie,
but agreed because maybe it would be fun.
Asher also suggested that she sit closer to him.
Adelise said okay and moved, but it was oddly awkward.
They watched the movie.
It was an awful thing about a murderous man who hacked people to death while dressed in an outfit eerily similar to Elmire’s bunny pyjamas. Trying to be nice, Adelise asked what he thought. Caught off guard and knowing that he’d suggested the wrong film, he looked at Adelise with such uneasiness that she couldn’t help but smile and laugh. It hadn’t been that bad…
It was bad enough to be kind of funny, funny enough for the two of them to have a great discussion about the film. Adelise would 100% pick the next movie they watched.
Anyway, that had been interesting… not exactly a failure of a date, because the conversation had been good but…
Adelise: It’s cold. My hands are freezing and I’m tired. Goodnight. I’m going to bed.
Asher: Wait. I can warm you up.
Adelise didn’t think he could. He didn’t feel temperatures as she did, but he was never warm. He wasn’t really cold, either. He just was.
Asher: Let me try to warm you up. Trust me.
Adelise was impressed that her husband had learned some new tricks. She’d suddenly become pleasantly toasty and even warm in another way from his romantic embrace.
Asher: Adelise, wait. Are you really warm enough? I don’t think so.