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  The alcohol starts to catch up to Lan, as he holds the open door to the kitchen, looking down an empty hall, and the hall that contains Saya and Aiko, in that room down there.
  
He sniffs and holds his hand out in front of him, and it doesn't shake as much as it had started to on the way here. He turns it over and looks at his palm as one of the attendants scoots by him without a second glance.
  
Lan closes one eye, a habit he has when he's a little over the limit. He squints down the empty hall, towards the door where Saya and Aiko sit. Some awkward conversation, he thinks. To his right, another empty hall that splits into a multitude of rooms – one being his.
  
He taps his fingers on the open door, index to pinky, weighing his options. He was curious if they kept his room the same as he left it, but Saya was on her own with Aiko..
  
Lan tilts his head down and scratches his scalp, hard, pushing his hair back as he leans into the doorway, before catching himself and straightening up.
  
He tilts his head back and squints his eyes closed hard. Don't be an asshole, you're being an asshole. Don't be an asshole. Lan tilts his head back down and opens his eyes, looking into the kitchen, finding the sink as he walks over to it, twisting the tap open.
  
Cupping a hand under the running water, he rinses out his mouth and spits it down the drain, multiple times, but still feels it when he breathes out, the alcohol on his breath.
  
One of the attendants walks into the kitchen and skids to a stop as she sees Lan bent over the sink. She holds a ceramic cup and pulls it to her chest as she doesn't really know what to do in this situation.
  
Lan stares at her with his lips under the faucet before twisting it off and wiping his mouth with the back of his hand. “Thirsty,” he tells her in Japanese, “the tea wasn't enough.”
  
Whether or not she believed him, she nods, turning quick and skirting her way out back into the hall where she came from. Don't ask questions, do your job.
  
Lan grips the faucet handle and turns it off, breathing in and exhaling, feeling less of the alcohol on his breath.
  
“Tea dinner sleep, tea dinner sleep,” he starts again but holds for a moment. “Tea, dinner, taxi, sleep. Tea dinner taxi sleep.” Lan corrects himself for his guest.
  
The hand on the faucet stretches out its fingers, the telltale shaking gone now. He needs to get back, it's been a few minutes, and Saya is alone with Aiko..

--

  Lan walks down the hall from the kitchen, his hand grazing along the wall for tactile touch, but honestly to keep him upright.
  
Gone were the maids and butlers, just him and his socks as he steps towards the room where he left Saya at the mercy of Aiko, and who knows what the hell that conversation was.
  
He clasps his hand over his mouth and wipes it again, but still feels the vodka leaving him with every breath. Just don't breathe their way, he thinks.
  
Lan's fingers trace over paper squares as he comes upon the room where the women were, hovering over the divider between the sliding doors.
  
He actually did need to use the bathroom, but that excuse was gone by the wayside, Should have fucking gone.. before.. Lan rubs his temple idly. God dammit. Breathe. Act sober. If he could slap himself without being heard, he would have.
  
Instead, Lan crooks his neck side to side, breathing in slowly as he pulls the sliding door open, both women looking at him as he enters.
  
He smiles to both, reminding himself to keep his fucking eyes open and focused, you shitbag. He pulls back the cushion next to Saya and sits down, crossing his legs as he looks at the two of them, then to the tea set.
  
With the lack of an attendant, Lan picks the teapot up and pours himself a cup of tea, congratulating himself on the lack of shaking as he sets it down and picks the cup off the tray, setting it in front of himself.
  
But both women were examining him for every minute movement, just waiting for a slip..

--

  “Apologies, from the airport to the hotel to here, I didn't get a chance to..” he trails off, they're smart enough to extrapolate on their own.
  
He looks over at the woman across the table, “Aiko, thank you for having us. I.. know that you offered to host Saya while we are here, but to be fair..” he looks over at Saya, considering his words, “Until recently, we were just neighbors.”
  
Lan turns back to Aiko, “But seeing as this was a holiday weekend, I thought I'd offer to show her around Hiroshima.” He tilts the cup of tea a bit, looking at the steam curling out of it.
  
“So, rather than it be.. awkward.” As if it already wasn't, he thinks, “I asked Reo to book her a hotel room. I'll still be staying here, though.”
  
She nods, none of them truly interested in the tea in front of them, but it was a platitude to hosting guests in any fashion. “I can understand that, I would like to know more about Miss Travis, and you, Lan, I always get my news second-hand from your father or Reo. And it's usually never..” she hesitates, tilting her head a bit as she thinks of the word in English, speaking it for Saya's benefit. “..encouraging? Is that the word?”
  
Lan breathes in slowly through his nose, he could push that right back at her, but doesn't, exhaling and letting it brush past him, “It's.. been difficult. But I'm..” His memory flashes to the night he pulled the trigger on an empty gun in his mouth, “still here,” he says, smiling wanly.
  
“But since it's rather late, and I know everyone wants to see me in some fashion, I thought it would be nice to show Saya where I grew up. For a time,” he adds, the bite of that last statement wasn't lost on Aiko as her gaze hardens a little looking at him.
  
“And to have dinner, I suppose,” he relents, “I know from experience that your staff can make an.. elegant meal. So, I hope you don't mind me exploiting that to impress Saya a bit.”
  
Aiko returns Lan's smile with no hint of mirth behind her eyes as she nods. “Of course. It is a holiday, after all..”

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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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