Saya rounds a corner and walks along a bit before turning, noting Lan hadn't followed her. Her pace slows as her fingers touch lightly against a door, pushing it open a crack and finding a lovely dining room, a cabinet with beautiful china, polished to a sheen.
She slides it closed and continues on down the hall Lan referred to as 'us'. What that meant, she didn't understand, but as she is figuring out about Lan and his family, there is a lot that she doesn't understand.
Saya walks along, inspecting each room briefly, a den with a couch and a TV, looking comfortable but largely unused. A restroom with an attached shower and bath.
The quiet, perfectly manicured courtyard spreads out between the buildings on her left as she turns another corner, coming to a bedroom. This, too, looked perfect, but someone obviously lived here. She lingers in the doorway as she looks at posters, bookshelves liked with novels, awards.
Pictures of what look like a younger Reo with his family, friends at school. An uncluttered desk with an organized pen and pencil cases, tape, stapler, a study nook, basically.
She slides the door closed and continues on, her fingers hovering before the notch of the next one. If she was right, this would probably be Lan's bedroom.
Would have been, she thinks.
She slides it open and stands in the doorway, looking around. Built like Reo's, Lan's room was similar. Same desk, same bookshelves, same bed. A blue-grey comforter spread across a queen bed made of a lighter, pine wood.
The rooms were set up similarly, but the contents were different, almost imperceptibly.
Saya was about to take a step in before she hears Lan's voice from her right, making her jump in her own skin as if she were doing something guiltily.
“Seven.” He states as she turns to look at him, Lan leaning on a post between the two bedrooms, his arms across his chest.
“Seven?” she asks.
“Including the hotel bar, and since we've been here all of.. 30 minutes, I've had the equivalent of seven shots of liquor.” He explains, his answer to her previous question.
He holds out his hand again, not for her to take, but for her to examine. There was no tremble in it. Saya watches it for a moment before looking up at him, nodding.
“So you didn't go to the restroom like you said.” He shakes his head, no, he hadn't. Lan couldn't look her in the eye.
“I don't..” She places a hand on the door frame and turns to him, “I don't expect you to tell me everything, Lan. I'm not your shrink. I don't want to be.”
“But you said you were honest with me, on the ride here. You bared your soul to me almost right before we came here. The night before, actually. You wanted me to know what I was getting into.”
She looks over into the room, at the window letting in what light there was left outside.
“Thank you for telling me. You don't have to tell me everything, but don't lie to me, either.”
Lan still looks at the floor, but nods slightly as he chews on his bottom lip. “Alright. You're right.” He inhales and finally does look at her, shrugging. “I'm.. going to drink. And I'm going to hide it from my family. They know I lie to them too, but they don't know all the secrets hidden around this house.”
He tilts his chin towards the door she stood next to, “It was mine. Was. But not for a long time.” Lan pushes off the post and walks around to Saya's other side, opening the door wider as he steps in, looking around quietly.
“They keep it like this, for me. I usually don't stay overnight.” He steps to the foot of the bed and looks down at it, considering. “It hasn't felt like home in a.. very long time.”
Saya follows in behind him, the same corner nook as Reo's, a little more barren. Older comics and sci-fi novels along the bookshelf. Above it, a long row of differently shaped and sized shot glasses, from all around the world. And on the top shelf, pictures.
He watches her look around, staying quiet. The pictures were mostly of Lan, his mother, his father, some friends, but they all looked very young. Even Lan as a baby. Saya smiles a bit at that last one.
She sorta grins back at him over her shoulder as she motions to the picture of him as a baby. “You were a chubby kid, huh.” He turns a little red at that, but nods, chuckling.
“Friends and family always have that one joke they use,” Lan says, “'You used to be so cute, what happened?'” She laughs and nods, turning back to the picture, “I get that too, sometimes, seems it's universal no matter where you're from,” Saya replies.
She reaches up and picks up the frame of Lan's mother holding the fat blue-eyed baby boy in her lap, tilting it towards the light. He was giggling, and his mother was smiling along.
“She was beautiful, Lan. I don't think I told you before, in your apartment when I saw the pictures. There's a lot of her in your looks, I think.” Saya replaces the frame on the shelf, and turns back to him.
Her smile falls when she notices his red eyes, tears dripping off his chin, almost holding his breath to hold back the rest of how he was feeling.
A dishonest smile appears on his face as he sniffs, hard, finally choking out with a laugh even less genuine, “Yeah.. it's.. uh.. it's why I don't come here often. Or stay. Or look at her pictures.”
“I ah.. can't do that anymore,” Lan states, “It's like looking directly at the sun.”
- 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.