December 8, 2016

In Which Ashe Withholds the Complexities

March 3, 1203

"Are you out of your damn mind?"

Ashe's experience with parenthood had not been free of occasions that would merit his asking such a question, but he'd always held it back before. As a general rule, his children's poor decisions were more dangerous to themselves than they were to other people, and such behaviors tended to be symptoms of some more serious issue that needed to be addressed, something personal and deep-seeded like Yvanette's anxieties or Aspen's reckless interpretation of purpose. His children, for the most part, weren't cruel--and to that, Darry was no exception.

But whether Darry himself was cruel or not, whether he'd meant to be cruel or not, the fact was that his actions had been. "Begging me to let you put one sister in a setting she's not ready for, insisting that you'd keep an eye one her, convincing me that it would be in her better interests--just so you could get another sister and some man drunk enough to get married? Why the hell would you do that? Don't you care about your sisters at all?"

"Obviously! I wouldn't have bothered if I didn't." His son's scowl widened with every syllable, cross-armed stance tightening in furious sync with the tug of his mouth. "No reason I gave Aspen was good enough for her to stay, so I gave her Nato. I'm not pleased that I was too preoccupied with Aspen to keep Celina from having more drink than she could handle, but she was still with me all night and she'll be fine and I'm not sorry. Excuse me for not wanting Aspen to more or less run off and kill herself."

"And marrying her off against her will was meant to prevent that? Jesus Christ, Darry! All you did was take yourself off of any list of reasons she might have stayed!"

"Nato isn't just some random stranger, you know. Aspen loves him! And he loves her, if you haven't been paying any attention. The only people who didn't know that were Aspen and Nato." Darry gritted his teeth, a low hiss shoving through like he was holding back a growl. "And you, apparently. She'll stay for him, but neither of them would have figured that out."

"My God! Are you even listening to yourself?" How had that idiot Falidor heard all of this with a calm ear and thought it a plan worthy aiding? How had Darry managed to convince someone to get Nato to the party before someone with a shred of sense could have found and revealed the plot? The only way Ashe could push those questions aside was to thank God that at least his new son-in-law hadn't been a conspirator himself. "It doesn't matter how they feel about each other! What matters is how they feel about what happened and how--and given that Aspen's locked herself up at Capricorn House and Nato's mother says he's been destroying training dummies all morning, clearly neither are happy about it! What did you think would happen, Darry? That Nato would insist she stay like some brutish husband and Aspen would be oh-too-happy to oblige? If you thought Nato was that sort, then you have no right to think you were doing Aspen a favor."

"That's a bold jab, coming from the man who won my mother in a tournament."

That did it. Darry was far too old for a cuff to the head, and Ashe had never thought it right to cuff him anyway. But twenty-two was no worse than any other age for a grab of the arm and a firm yank inward, nor did petty jeers or steadfast lack of repentance deserve any better. "You don't know a damn thing about your mother and me, or anything we've been through--but suffice to say that our official relationship didn't start well, and it took one hell of a lot to fix that. With Aspen graduating at the end of the month, she and Nato don't have the time for that amount of fixing--and if she's anything like her mother, the first thing she'll want is to be far away from here. Don't think I haven't sent guards to campus already in case she tries to leave tonight."

"She's not going to leave! She won't waste all that tuition spent by running off mere weeks before she graduates. Besides, they consummated the marriage; she knows there's no going back after that, and it won't take her long to figure out that she doesn't want to anyway."

"She already planned to waste that tuition by running off right after! And you can end a consummated marriage--in absentia. And unlike you, Nato might just respect Aspen's agency enough not to run after her."

"So that's it? You've just given up on your own daughter? Her agency means more than her life?"

"That's it! You don't get to make any assumptions about how I feel about any of this--and not just because that tiny brain of yours couldn't handle the complexities." And now, in addition to everything else that Darry couldn't handle, he had half a mind to toss his firstborn son out a tower window. "Go apologize to your sisters, and to your mother, and to Nato and his parents and everyone else you've left to clean up your mess. And don't let me see your face again before you've done that."


1 comment:

Van said...

I think most kids growing up in a two-parent household end up having one parent who freaks out about everything to the point where their anger becomes meaningless, and one who's much more restrained and you know you've fucked up if you manage to make them mad. Given that between him and Rona, Ashe is almost definitely the latter... yeah, Darry done fucked up.