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  As he wakes, Lan's eyes open, but not at the same time. First one, then the other, with a telltale headache behind them both. He felt melted into the mattress, all of which led him to the conclusion: I must have taken another one before bed.
  
He slowly raises his arm and wiggles it to activate the smartwatch's gyroscope as it displays a black and orange face. The hour hand was halfway past twelve, which didn't surprise him, he slept like the dead when he took a Xanax after drinking.
  
Lan reaches up and twists the bezel, heart rate too high, restless sleep for hours, he didn't have the watch for it to tell him how unhealthy he was, which it did often. He had two unread texts and two e-mails. The summary on his watch didn't tell him much other than Reo telling Lan to go fuck himself, so he turns and grabs his phone.
  
Thumbing the power key, Lan's half-lidded eyes aren't enough for his phone to recognize the owner, so he drags his finger in an L shape along the nine dots to unlock it. He opens the text thread with Reo and sees: “Go fuck yourself.” and an hour later, “Fine.”
  
He remembers having a conversation with his brother, but what it was about.. backing out of texts, he looks at his new e-mails, both a forward from Reo. The top half was Japanese, the rest in English. He reads along the top..
  

  Thank you for booking with Japan Airlines, Satake Lan!

  Ticket type: e-ticket

  Booking Reference: A659Z1

   This is your e-ticket receipt, you will not receive a paper..

  Lan sits up, pressing the palm of his hand against his forehead to uselessly fight back the headache that will only get worse. Reo had booked a ticket for Friday in his name. He swipes right and is met with another:

  Thank you for booking with Japan Airlines, Travis Saya!

  Ticket type: e-ticket

  Booking Reference: A659A3

  This is your e-ticket receipt, you will not receive a paper..

  Reo had booked the two of them direct flights from Haneda airport to Hiroshima yesterday. Apparently, whatever Lan had said to Reo was enough to get him to book the tickets. He didn't quite remember what he said, something to do with Father.. is all he recalls.
  
Lan inhales sharply as he remembers that Saya has yet to say yes, wincing, dropping his phone on the bed and pressing both palms against his forehead as the headache begins in honest.
  
“Fuck.. ff.. food, ibuprofen.. water.. first.” He pushes back the covers and stands up, thudding his way into the kitchen for all three.

   Saya exits her apartment and locks up, looking over at Lan's door. She hadn't truly made up her mind to go or not, but she had errands to run. Walking and thinking may help.

  Yeah it helped Gregg, didn't it? Her pessimistic side interjects.

  She shakes her head and pulls her purse up onto her shoulder, starting her way down the stairs to the courtyard.

  Reo, meanwhile, was in business mode, for the most part. Nothing in his job description required him to do weekly tours of the plant across from headquarters, but since Father had taken a step back in day-to-day operations, Reo felt like it benefits him and their employees to do a once-over.
  
His assistant follows behind as the employees of the milling machine production facility stop in their monotonous jobs to turn and bow to Reo until he passes. He didn't mind, glancing over each station as he passes by. Nothing about the plant was a clean area, grease, oil, machined shavings littered the floor, Reo is used to that, what he was looking for was the employee's safety.
  
Cigarettes hung out of some of their mouths, which was fine. Well, it's not fine, but.. Reo made some compromises to keep them happy, so long as..
  
He stops at an employee running a lathe, who had yet to notice Reo. He didn't expect all of them to bow to him, production was always more important, but it was the workstation that caught his eye.
  
Reo signals to his assistant who thumbs through sheets on a clipboard and hands him the employee's profile. Reo scans it for a moment before stepping forward and yelling out:

  “YAMAMOTO-SAN.

  The factory required a deep, loud voice, and Reo's was practiced enough that the employee heard him through his yellow earplugs. He flicks the lathe's power switch as it spins down, turning to see who called out for him before flinching.
  
The reaction wasn't uncommon, so Reo waits as Yamamoto pulls out his earplugs, removes his safety glasses, and bows at the waist at his boss – and stays that way. “Sir!” he replies.
  
“Even though I don't like it,” Reo starts, “Satake allows employees to smoke on the floor. Smoke breaks would simply.. decrease production.”
  
Yamamoto's shoulders tense up as Reo speaks the word “smoke” - he knows exactly why he's being called out, but stays silent as Reo continues.
  
Reo points down at his shined black dress shoes, in front of which lay three cigarette butts, but there are more around Yamamoto's station.
  
“As you undoubtedly know, parts of our machines are magnesium. You even work with it yourself for this part, don't you?” Reo walks past the bowing man and leans over the lathe, glancing down at the shavings underneath the machine.
  
“Stand up.” Reo commands from behind Yamamoto.
  
He does, hands at his sides, staring straight out, unable to meet his boss' eyes. Beads of sweat start to leak out from under the safety glasses on his forehead. Reo circles around and despite the fact that Yamamoto was taller, he looks up at the worker, leaning in.
  
“Do you know how much damage you could cause from letting those shavings burn?” Reo knows from experience, he only did it once, but Toshio had shown him just how white-hot magnesium burns, akin to a welding torch with very little accelerant. Yamamoto knew too.
  
“You've been..” he looks down at the profile in his hands, “an adequate employee so far, only here a year. So I will say this.”
  
Reo hisses through grit teeth, “If I find one more cigarette butt anywhere near this lathe, I will send your ass packing back to Gunma faster than you can say 'But sir..' - do I make myself clear?”
  
Yamamoto bends even deeper, the safety glasses dropping to the floor between him and Reo, yelling out an emphatic “YES, SIR!
  
Reo clicks his pen and makes a single slash to the left of his name on his profile – a single warning. There are none with two.
  
“Good.” He holds the clipboard to his assistant, who takes it from him. “Clean this up and get back to work.”
  
Another resounding “YES, SIR.” from Yamamoto, and Reo continues his inspection down the line. It's not until Reo is out of view does he pick up his safety glasses.. and the cigarette butts around his station.

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About the author

drac

Bio: apologies for everything about me, it might get better.

updates will be once a day for the next seventy days since i am migrating from another platform and have those chapters - and more - ready to go. (from 8/9)

feel free to come hang out in the discord, if you like.

[email protected]

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