Lan comes around from the kitchen and holds out the bottle of water to Saya, and in his other hand, he cracks open a can of beer. She takes it, but looks at him opening the can, glancing out at the window. Saya didn't wear a watch, but it was nowhere near sundown, 5pm, or anything that would excuse day drinking on a Thursday.
She follows him to the couch, sitting down in one of the unused armchairs, confirming her suspicion. The cushion, the pillow were bouncy, not many people had sat in them before. Lan himself sits in the middle of the couch and crosses his legs under him, holding his beer between his hands as she waits.
“I guess.. you don't know a lot about me.” He admits. “The reason.. no..” Lan pauses, collecting himself. “Do you mind if I start at the beginning?”
Saya looks at him, wondering what that meant. 'The beginning' is a very strong phrase. But he's talking. So she nods, leaning back in the armchair, resting the bottle of water against her.
Lan picks up the TV remote and thumbs the mute button, leaving them both in silence until he starts.
“My.. mom.. died a year ago. Back in the last part of July.” He draws out his words as he speaks them, as if trying to confirm what he wants to say. “Aaand.. she was.. my.. connection. To the outside world.”
Lan drinks from his beer, three measured sips, strange, Saya thinks. He taps his fingers against the can. “So I had.. have.. a father and a mother. Right?”
He reaches up and slides his fingers through his hair, and smiles sadly at her. “Told you I'd start at the beginning.. do you want me to continue?”
Saya watches him as he drinks, as he talks. This is all a practiced speech. He's done this before. Bluntness over.. confrontation. She thinks. But she nods to him.
“It was all pretty normal, I got shit for being a half, but it didn't bother me much, and I was very much a mama's boy.” He laughs, but not in the way there was any humor behind it.
“Father traveled a lot. I mean, I can't fault him for it, I guess he was doing what he thought was best for us? We never wanted for anything, I mean.. we had a nice house, I went to a good school, we had the latest technology..”
“And everything seemed fine, you know?” A pause, and another drink, three gulps, Saya guesses he was half done with it already. “And I was halfway through high school, and everything went..” Lan shakes his head, and puts his hands together and spreads them apart from left to right. “Divisive. Not wrong or right, just different.”
“It went from normal to a hard split.” He chops the air down in front of himself, then leans back. “I've heard both side's excuses, chat rooms were a new thing back then, yeah?” He looks at Saya, but doesn't wait for her confirmation. “And Mom got into them as an.. escape, maybe.”
“And she met a man. And my parents had separated. I'd visit this man with her, and I think she had her best intentions, but I can't be sure. And I would stay with my father, but his apartment was cold, uninviting.”
Lan looks around and laughs again, “Kind of like this, I guess. I didn't like staying with him.”
“The divorce started, and it.. escalated. It's.. very strange to be seated in one room as an argument between your parents ends up in them wrestling on the floor in anger and overhearing something you were never meant to hear.”
“Some.. things. A child is a very good pawn when it comes to adults divorcing.” He smiles sadly at Saya, shrugging a bit. But Lan realizes he's been doing all the talking, and not about easy things, either.
“Let's stop, starting at the beginning meant something different to you, and I can be truthful, but you don't deserve all of this at once.” Lan sets his beer in front of him on the coffee table, shaking his head. “You're not my therapist, we're barely friends, and just neighbors, sorry.. sorry, I..”
Lan stands up and walks to his desk and picks up the printouts of both their tickets and takes Saya's, turning and holding it out to her. “Here. It's the confirmation for the ticket to Hiroshima for the weekend. You'll have to find somewhere to stay, but it's.. still valid.”
Saya takes the paper and looks over it, Japan Airlines, the flight was tomorrow, and in her name, like he said.
But when he doesn't move from beside the armchair, she folds the paper in half and puts it on the coffee table, picking up the bottle of water and taking a drink from it. She twists the cap back on and looks up at him.
“You said the truth, not a cop out.” She shrugs, and points to the couch where he was sitting. “You want to get it all out before I get to my questions, go on and do it.”
After her interactions with Gregg, or now lack thereof, Saya's mood wasn't at her best. She recognizes her sharp temper, but doesn't hold it back in talking with him.
Lan rubs his wrist for a moment before sitting back down in the middle of the couch. After the trepidation, Saya was surprisingly direct today. “The.. the rest.. look,” he turns towards her, “I know you're not my therapist. I don't expect you to be. If you think you can fix me like a project, you can't. People have tried.”
“So why me?” she asks, matter-of-fact.
Lan picks up his beer and looks down at it. “Deflection? That sounds so selfish. I'm going home to a family that.. I don't know anymore. I haven't for a long while. But I thought I could.. use you as an excuse. 'I can't spend time at home, she wants to see Hiroshima.'” He mimes in a fake conversation before taking another drink.
Saya is quiet for a moment as she searches what she knows of him as her neighbor, his brother, how he arrived, this paid trip. She looks over at Lan. “Where is this money coming from?”
“You've been here, in this complex, what..”
“A little less than a year.” he answers.
“And I've been here longer than that, and I never see you come, or go, host other people, you wouldn't even let Reo-san in.”
He grimaces and holds up a hand. “Don't call him that, please. Honorifics are.. he's just my half-brother.”
For her it was habit, though, “So.. why are you here,” she asks, “How.. are you here? Who pays your bills, who supplies your food, utilities, who paid for all of this?” She picks up the folded paper next to her.
“Who is paying our way to Hiroshima?”
- a recovering disaster? / twitter: @rgdrac
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)
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