"I'm not sure this is such a good idea, Lem...do you really need to go hunting Allison down? The kid's better off without her."
Azryn leaned against a table near the door, arms crossed over his chest as his brown eyes regarded his older brother through black bangs. Hell, they were all better off without Allison.
"I know that." Lemos grimaced, pulling his overcoat on. "But she has answers about the child's father that I need. 'Driel's growing up; it can't wait any longer." Settling his collar in place, he fixed Azryn with a stern look.
"You're to follow the list I gave you - foods she'll eat, her bedtime, when she's allowed outside and where- and don't let her tell you that I only make her bathe once a week. It's three times."
Azryn rolled his eyes in mild exasperation. Why couldn't Lemos just make this easy and let him take the kid home to stay with his own family?
"I still think this would make more sense if she stayed with us. She'd have her cousins to play with, and Eisa adores her-"
Lemos frowned. "Her cousins are precisely why she won't be staying there. I know they've been told not to answer any of her questions, but children tend to run at the mouth." He sized up his younger brother and smirked lightly.
"Much like their father."
Azryn's hands shot up defensively. "Hey! I was four. I've gotten better. Mouth shut, Lem."
"It had better st-"
The sound of 'Driel's usual method of descending the stairs interrupted their conversation, and they both turned to look at the little girl as she jumped down each step carefully, feet together. Lemos rubbed the bridge of his nose; he could already feel a headache coming on. Azryn was just amused.
"Just in time to say bye to your uncle, Kid. He's gonna miss his train if he hangs around here worrying much longer."
'Driel launched herself off the last two steps and into Lemos's arms, knocking the Azryn-directed scowl off his face.
"You won't be gone forever, right? Just a little bit? Then you'll come home and read me stories?"
She clung to him a little desperately, and he hugged her tightly before gently prying her loose.
"Just a couple of weeks and then I'll be home, I promise. I'll even read you two stories the night I return. Now listen to me, Galadriel. Be a good girl and listen to your uncle Azryn. His rules are my rules, understand? So don't think you'll be getting away with anything in my absence."
'Driel flushed slightly and looked away, scuffing a shoe against the floor as she clasped her hands together in front of her.
"Yes uncle Lemos." She glanced back up at him with a smile. "I'll behave."
Almost ten minutes of hesitation and strict instructions later, Lemos was finally gone into the evening darkness, and 'Driel was rocking back and forth on her heels, staring sadly at the door. Azryn decided it would be a good idea to get her back into her routine so she didn't dwell on Lemos.
"Well Kid, you should head upstairs for your bath."
'Driel turned to him and shook her head. "Don't want to."
Azryn shrugged. They could argue about it later. "How about some dessert first? Then you can have your bath."
Her face lit up, and before he could even start toward the kitchen, 'Driel had darted off. By the time he followed, she was in front of the island, scooping Black Cherry ice cream out of the carton and into a bowl.
Azryn paused, then casually sauntered over to her, picking up the carton as 'Driel smushed the ice cream in her bowl flat to make room for more.
"Black Cherry, huh? Is it good?"
He was a little surprised the smell wasn't bugging him, but then, he'd always been the weird one in the family...at least until the kid came along.
"Oh, it's great! You should try some!"
'Driel yanked the carton away and dug her spoon in, bringing up a decent-sized chunk of ice cream.
"Open wide!" She thrust the spoon toward Azryn, and he stumbled back away from it, almost slipping on the tile.
"Naw, that's okay, I don't really feel like ice cream right now anyway..."
She paused, the spoon still held out, before she pulled it back to shove in her own mouth. She glared at him in silence before swallowing and sticking the spoon angrily into the bowl, where it remained upright.
"You're just like uncle Lemos! He never wants to eat my stuff either! I don't know what he likes to eat 'cause I never see him do it, and he won't share!"
The kid was bordering on a temper tantrum, possibly involving buckets of tears. Azryn could see it coming, what with three children of his own.
"Look, 'Driel, there's an explanation for that- but Lem wants to tell you himself, so we'd better leave it alone. Now, when he gets back-"
Lem would kill him, setting him up like this with no warning, but what else could he do?
It was almost a shriek, and Azryn winced. The kid had good lungs on her.
"I want to know now! I can't go out in the sunlight without going blind, and I've got these stupid pointy teeth that make me look funny when I smile-" And here she paused to open her mouth wide and poke at her fangs before continuing, "and my cousins say they don't have them, and I remember- I remember Mama saying that I didn't burn, like it was a bad thing somehow, and all uncle Lemos says is that he'll tell me when I'm older! I'm old enough!"
The end of her outburst was punctuated by 'Driel grabbing the bowl of ice cream and throwing it across the kitchen, where it shattered against the old stone fireplace. Azryn was stunned into silence. Well, she obviously had the good old Naos family temper. But the poor kid...It wasn't right for his brother to have kept this a secret from her for so long. Partly to protect her, but mostly because he didn't know how to go about it...
He ran a hand back through his bangs and sighed as he regarded his niece. She seemed to be calm now, and if anything, appeared to be embarrassed. She refused to meet his eyes, instead focusing on the shattered bowl or the still open carton on the island.
"You're right. You deserve answers to those questions, and you shouldn't have to wait until you're an adult to get them...which knowing Lem is probably exactly when he was planning on telling you."
Azryn moved over to the kitchen table and dropped into a chair. 'Driel hadn't moved, but now her attention was tightly fixed on him. If he hadn't been a vampire himself, it would've been unnerving.
"C'mon and sit, and I'll try and explain the best I can."
Lemos was going to kick his ass.