“The Group.” he states, simply. Lan's head tilts a bit as he reconsiders the answer. “My family isn't.. so much a family as it is a corporation now.” He looks over at her. “I am Satake in name as much as Lan. Just names.” He takes the can from the coffee table and walks back into the kitchen.
Saya hears him drop the can into the trash and the fridge opening. “So what.. do they do?” she asks, not turning back to look at him.
He returns, resuming his seat as another can is opened in front of her. Is this normal?
He smiles a cheeky grin at her, “You like bread? Or rice.. especially rice.” Lan takes a drink from the can. “The Satake Group is the 'oldest, largest, most diverse company in its field, serving over one hundred and fifty countries',” he recites. Corporate speak from a non-corporate mouth.
“We don't make the rice. Well, not anymore. We make the machines that process, cook, and package it.”
Saya leans back in her chair, thinking of what Lan said. Groups, hierarchy, incorporation, boardrooms. And what he said about what they did, who they were. All the countries that grow wheat, all the countries that grow rice? They must all need Satake's machines.
“So you're a billionaire. Is that it?”
The comment tickles Lan, enough that it forms in a loud, silly, chaining-laughter at the statement, he only eases back when some of his beer drops down on his shirt. He wipes his free hand down along it, still smiling. “Sorry..”
Lan looks over at Saya with a sad, resigned smile. “Do I look like any type of billionaire to you, Saya?”
To her credit, she considers his question seriously, only to look back down at the paper at her side, her confirmation to Hiroshima. “It's.. fifty-fifty, isn't it?”
“Wealthy people fall into two categories, I've observed,” continuing. “Either they show it off in every way possible, or they don't change.”
She makes sure she has his attention until she continues. “Money doesn't change them. It just means they don't have to worry about where or how they live.” Saya picks at the label on the bottle of water in her hands idly. “Things like not worrying about how much an international call costs, or taking a taxi over the train. Sushi over a sub sandwich..” she trails off, looking distant out over the balcony rail.
Lan opens his mouth and closes it with a clack of teeth, biting back his first instinctual comment. It took a moment before he responds. “I'm not a billionaire, Saya. I'm the black sheep, the disaster. You just happen to live next to me. But I told you I'd tell you the truth, and I'm.. not done yet.”
Saya looks up at him, resigned again after thinking about Gregg, gesturing to the beer. “You're an alcoholic. I got that much. No one drinks this early, and this.. kind of beer,” referring to the high alcohol content she noticed the other night.
Lan nods, running his thumb along the rim of the can as he looks at it. “I'm not being cheeky, do you want to keep guessing, or should I keep going?”
Saya shakes her head and opens her palm to him. “No, I was being cheeky, nearly self-depreciating, even..” her chest lifts in a breathless laugh, thinking of Gregg. “They were.. your parents were divorcing.” She grimaces at the word, what a horrible place to start revisiting.
Lan pulls his legs under him again and rests the can in his lap. “Right. We moved.. we couldn't afford the mortgage on the house anymore. I didn't mind that. Home was.. with her.”
“So in the settlement, she got money, not nearly enough that you'd think someone like my father would agree to. But she had bills to pay, a child to take care of, and it's all what you'll sign in the moment.”
“She was a homemaker. She had degrees, of course, but very little experience. And who is going to hire someone of her age these days? She could have fought it, but it would have been expensive and she had me, so.. she signed.”
He inhales slowly, starting to mime thumbing through stapled papers. “She even let me read it, the divorce papers. This much over this many years, and it felt disgusting. How little she ended up with in the end.”
Lan barks out a laugh which catches Saya by surprise as he remembers the next part. “And.. I can't remember why, but I had his credit card information.” He looks over at her, and to her, he looks genuinely smiling.
“So.. I went online and built a seven thousand dollar computer for myself. And charged it to him.” Saya does a few calculations, a computer of that cost today is shocking, when they were younger it would be outrageous.
“And he found out about it, of course,” his face falling a bit. “And made me return it. It wasn't so much wanting the computer as wanting to.. do something. To.. make him pay. In my young mind.” He squints a bit, looking over at her. “Does that make sense?”
Saya nods, she had her tiffs with her family, not in this proportion by any means, but like the argument between Reo and Lan before, she knew the gist of it.
His emotion outright disappears, “I think four months later he bought the exact same computer for me for Christmas.” Lan deadpans. This time he wasn't smiling, or laughing. “I think that was the first time I was.. really excited and really disappointed at the same time. 'Yes, here it is!'” He exclaims, arms open, pantomiming a large box.
“And 'yes. Here it is.'” Lan's voice more dejected, his arms drop back to his sides. “I thought about it like.. my message did nothing. It meant nothing. Or he didn't understand. Which is kind of ironic, considering later in life he has been fond of saying 'Any time I want to see you, I have to open my checkbook.'”
Lan tilts the can almost vertical into his open mouth and stands up, grabbing another beer from the fridge. Meanwhile Saya hadn't taken more than a few sips of her water. She didn't ask questions, yet, as he sits back down. His hands are trembling less, she thinks.
“She got a job, and I got.. online.” He shrugs, setting his drink down for the moment. “I turned inward. Misery loves company, right?” Lan shakes his head slightly, “There are a lot of people on the internet to be miserable with, I've found.”
“And so began the long, long road of avoiding everything in my life until now.”
- 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)
feel free to come hang out in the discord, if you like.