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  “Here's where it's up to you,” he says, looking at his watch. “It's.. coming up on 5pm. They'd.. oh, Christ..” Lan looks past her as the cart slows down in front of an opulent gravel entranceway with stepping stones leading up to the front door.
  
Lan makes no movement to get out of the cart as he watches from behind Saya, attendants in yukata, folks dressed like Reo, he thinks, line up to the right and left of the walkway towards the main building.
  
All of them bend at the waist in a polite bow towards their new guests, Saya looking back at Lan who honestly had a bored, this is normality expression on his face with his hand holding his chin. When she looks back to the men and women kept bowing until their guests made a move, Lan finally speaks.
  
“She likes to show off,” he mumbles, behind his hand as he looks out at the entrance Saya's staring at. “And this is what I meant.” He drops his hand down from his face, “If you want, we can say hello, have tea, and leave. But if I know Aiko..”
  
He tilts his head, grimacing a bit at the fact that he knew her habits, “If you'd like, we could have dinner here. And.. afterwards a taxi would take you back to the hotel.”
  
Saya looks back at Lan and points out towards the men and women still bowing, awaiting their entrance. “Lan, who are these people? Is this where you grew up?”
  
Starting on the left, he taps the air in front of each of the people facing them. “Fumi, Hana, Fu.. shit.. Fumiko? Junko, Chiyo..” He stops, hovering at a larger woman who waits on the porch and isn't bowing. “Miho,” he almost spits out, continuing as the males on the right come up in the list, “Goro, I don't know, I don't know, Hiroshi, Naoki..” More females, “Naoko, Yumiko, and.. I.. don't know.”
  
“Seems they hired a few new people since I've been back,” he says, grabbing the roof of the cart and pulling himself out, walking around to the back where his bag was, unhooking it and setting it on the ground.
  
“Besides, the only ones that mattered were Eiji and Miho.”
  
Saya frowns and steps out of the cart, turning towards Lan at the back. “That's not fair, what about the others? That's kind of insulting.”
  
Lan smiles at that and leans down to Saya. “If Eiji is the happy one, Miho is the devil.” Holding a hand up, he waves at Eiji as the groundskeeper takes off in his cart, his job done.
  
“So, Miss Travis, tea, or dinner?” Lan asks.

--

  Lan starts out first, and it doesn't take long before one of the women steps forward to grab his suitcase, turning and skirting around the rest of the attendants as they welcome the two.
  
To Lan, it was nothing new. To Saya, it was as if she were a royal. Strange, and very, very awkward. Lan had pointed out all their names, but only two stuck, Eiji and Miho.
  
As he starts up the few stairs onto the porch, Aiko finally makes her entrance, dressed in her best formalities, with a smile on her face, which did nothing but piss Lan off, even though he returns the smile to her. “Aiko-san, thank you for having us,” he tilts his head down, speaking in Japanese.
  
“Nonsense, it's always a joy to have you come home, Lan,” she speaks in English, which makes his eye twitch – all of this was showing off. He glances at Saya, who kept her wits about her even in the face of such pseudo-regality.
  
“You are Miss Travis, yes? We were told that you would be arriving with Lan today.” Soundless feet pad over to Saya, as Aiko takes both of her hands with both of hers. “And this is your first time in Hiroshima? It may not seem like much, but we have plenty to see.”
  
Saya smiles politely at Aiko, gripping her hands in a gentle hello but does manage to look over at Lan, who isn't smiling, but isn't frowning either. There's that neutrality, she thinks, looking at Aiko who is either truly happy to have them in her home, or was very good at faking it.
  
Taking her hands back, Saya bows slightly towards the woman, “You speak English very well, if I may say so. But Lan hasn't told me more than just meeting you and your husband, is it for tea, or for more, like dinner?”
  
Lan's eyes glance sharply down at Saya's who meet them with a raised brow when she makes the comment.
  
This is your house, you make the decision, not me, her look seems to say.

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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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