Toshio sits with them for a time as Reo relates the information, and Aiko relates her excitement. She was a tremendous entertainer, and loved to impress, but family was family, and she pulled out all the stops.
If she was happy, then the household was happy, which meant Toshio himself was satisfied.
Once they were finished talking his ears off, he smiles and nods to his wife. “Dear, if I may, I need to borrow Reo for a bit, and I'm sure you have plenty you want to do..” He leads his wife on, looking to the attendants scurry outside of the room.
“Oh! Yes. Yes, I do, thank you.” She stands up – he and Reo follow suit out of formality, and Aiko plants a kiss on Toshio's cheek. “Welcome home, dear.”
After which, she joins the fray in the hall, as Toshio turns to his son. “A word, if you will.”
The two exit the room towards the courtyard, workers giving them a wide berth as the two walk together.
“I haven't seen Lan with a friend for more than an hour in well over a decade,” Toshio says, “so what has changed?” He even pauses mid-stride to ask Reo, “And never with a woman, is this a joke?”
Reo stops and turns back to face Toshio. “I.. do not know. I am almost certain it isn't, the woman in question being how she is.”
Above them, the little clattering sounds of a rainstorm start echoing through the open house, rivulets of water draining into the courtyard from between the tiles.
“My guess?” Reo poses, “Distraction. If he's the tour guide on a sightseeing trip, he doesn't have to be here as much if it were a true visit.”
Toshio's brow creases, the train of thought made sense, but it wasn't complete enough for him. He starts walking again, Reo doing the same.
“It makes sense he would bring her, as far as I know – outside of you – she's the closest thing to him.” Toshio cringed at his own wording, closest physically and mentally, if you think about it. “Unless he brought his therapist here, which I assume he's still going to? I'm still paying the bills for them.”
Reo shrugs and links his hands behind his back as he walks. “'You can lead a horse to water, but you can't make it drink.'” He quotes. “He says he goes, I believe him. What he talks about there, if anything, I do not know.”
“He eats, sleeps, takes his medications, and drinks, still. I think he does translations online for extra cash if he needs it.” That earns Reo a sharp glare from his father, but he doesn't shy away – giving Lan cash was giving him a bottle, no matter what Toshio's intent was.
“So tell me about this woman, Travis? It sounds familiar.” Toshio says. Reo unlocks his phone and scrolls through his documents, tilting the phone to his father who skims it lightly. She and Lan were different in ages, physically, but that meant nothing after a certain point and it certainly didn't apply to Lan.
“It should, she's the only tenant you approved to live in the building with him.”
He nods and pats the back of his own hand with the other, remembering. “Right. and considers why he allowed Miss Travis to live there. She was American, spoke English, he thought maybe that the girl could relate to Lan somehow. Culturally, physically, even phonetically for all Toshio cared. All he wanted was his son to find a way back into what he himself considered normal society. A home, a job, relationships, friends, family, something.
Technically, the Group owned the apartment building. And employed the landlady, who took care of general maintenance and collected rent and utilities. It just so happens that we pay for nine of the apartments out of our own pocket, Toshio thinks. He had mandated the eviction of all of the residents except for her – but could not explain why other than hope.
He looks out over the courtyard, thinking back to the first few conversations with Lan after his mother had passed. Nothing would have made him happier if he had wanted to come home to Hiroshima to live, but his son was insistent on staying in Ota. Staying where she was.
Lan had moved apartments, but not mindsets. He had always been a homebody, but now he was a homebody without a home. Toshio did what he thought was right, and wanted to give Lan a fresh start. A reintroduction to society. Something simple, an apartment without the hassles of actually having to maintain an apartment.
What ensued was the direct opposite. Instead of Toshio's ideal situation of a newly hatched chick emerging from an egg, Lan turned even further inward, a steel reinforced cage around the egg.
It was as if his son was frozen in time.
The death never happened.
And Lan was slowly killing himself.
- 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.