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  Saya's frown softens, but she relents and steps up beside Lan, who starts walking down the hall. “It's not healthy, you know,” she says.
  
Lan shrugs a shoulder and looks over at her. “Neither is the drinking. I'm just full of bad habits.”
  
They stop at another door as Lan pushes it aside, Saya peeking in. It was a larger room, adorned with a massive bed, an armoire, dressers, and closets lining one side. “Father and Aiko's room,” he states.
  
Saya didn't really feel like stepping foot into their room considering she knew so little, but nods. “It's very pretty. They have lovely taste.”
  
“She would liken it to covering a boiling pot,” Lan mumbles, which leaves Saya looking confused.
  
“Mom, not this.” He motions to the room before sliding the door closed and continuing his thoughts as they walk.
  
“Or a volcano. The way I treat my emotions. At least the negative ones.” They pass by an adjoining hall that disappears down further to their right. “Their bathroom and more storage,” Lan says.
  
“You know how the water will eventually bubble over even if covered, or a volcano builds such violent energy all under the surface until it can't be held back anymore?”
  
“Repression, sure. I think everyone does that to some extent,” she says.
  
He smiles awkwardly down at her as he shrugs again, “I guess I'm just.. really good at it. Even if it isn't healthy. I think it wouldn't be so self-destructive if I had more people around me, but that's why all my relationships suffer too. I don't talk, and when I do, it's this explosion of emotions or arguments.”
  
He lifts his hand, and the hand that still held onto hers intending to make an explosion pantomime then stops, his grip loosening around her hand as it slips from his. “Ah.. I didn't. Wasn't thinking. Sorry.”
  
Saya shakes her head and chuckles. “No, I did it first. It's fine.” She steps over to look out on the courtyard again, “I get it though. Kind of a vicious cycle. The depression leads to the drinking which leads to the rest, over and over, like you said.”
  
She looks over her shoulder at him, “You're not the only person with substance abuse issues I've encountered in my life, Lan.”
  
The house starts to light up as it starts to get darker, possibly on a timer as wall sconces come to life around them and the darkening courtyard.
  
“I also know that neither your family, friends, or even me can dissuade you otherwise until you choose to yourself.” She crosses her arms and leans against one of the support poles, he shrugs and nods.
  
“Shrinks say the same thing,” he says, “But you'd be surprised how low you can sink before you--”
  
He stops and walks over, sitting down with his socks touching the ground lightly, “'Rock-bottom' is a very hard thing to describe, I've found.”
  
Saya looks down as he sits, but doesn't say anything.
  
“People assume rock-bottom means losing everything, but that's not really the case. I've lost friends over it, my family walk on eggshells around me, and I've never given them reason to do otherwise.”
  
He pulls a heel up under him and rests his arms around it. “The lengths you go to to continue the cycle you mentioned. Outsiders can see the destruction, but I can't. Or won't.”

--

  When he doesn't speak again, she stares down at him quietly. “You said.. they want to send you away. But that it scares you. Why?” she asks.
  
Lan tilts his head and considers her question for a moment before looking up at her. “It's not so much a rational fear as it is a.. deconstruction of the idea in general.”
  
He turns and leans against the support pole opposite her, sitting cross-legged. “I realize I'm a very lucky man. That my father, Reo, and even Aiko support me. Without them, I'd be penniless or dead – in more ways than one, I'm convinced.”
  
“But I deconstruct everything before it starts. It's why I don't have a job, it's why I don't have new relationships – well, you're the first – and it's why I am scared of rehab. It's like a form of pessimism.”
  
Lan taps his knee for a moment, thinking, then holding out his hand towards her. “You, for example. You teach English here, yes? But why? And why so long?”
  
Saya slides her hands down behind her along her skirt as she kneels in front of Lan, considering. “I.. wanted to travel,” she starts, “I had finished a bachelor's, and.. rather than go right into a corporate kind of job, I wanted to go somewhere I've always wanted to.” She shrugs, motioning out towards the courtyard.
  
“My parents gave me a lot of help with paying for college. I couldn't rightfully expect them to provide me with money to travel, or to take a gap year, you know?”
  
As soon as she says it, she realizes the ridiculousness of saying it to Lan, pausing in her story, embarrassed. Lan just laughs a bit and nods.
  
“I get it.” He rolls his eyes at his own stupid reply, rephrasing. “I get the idea of it. You wanted to go, but you didn't want to trouble them about it.”
  
Saya nods, looking down at her hands as she fidgets a little, “So I.. researched teaching here, it's what my degree is in anyway, English. Though they're not very picky in what the degree is in, so long as you have a good grasp of the English language and the degree.”
  
“They paid my room, board, utilities, a salary. I get to continue studying in graduate school here and there, and I love seeing the kids as they learn, so I just.. stayed. For a while.” Lan nods as she continues.
  
“I don't know if I'll stay here forever, but I like it. It's a beautiful place, especially if you're not native to the language. I'm learning just as much as I'm teaching, yeah?”
  
She laughs slightly and looks around her at the lit hallways, the sheen on the floor, and finally back to Lan, shaking her head. “And before I came to Japan, if you told me I'd be in the house of a..”
  
Saya pauses, trying to come up with the word, “..wealthy business owner, about to have dinner with his family and son, who just happens to be my neighbor, I'd have said you were utterly insane.
  
Lan smiles and laughs, nodding. Saya grins back at him, he looks better laughing anyway. “It is.. not something you'd expect, I guess,” he admits. His laugh slows, and the smile doesn't fade, but it does slip a bit.
  
“You're here because you had the courage to do those things. You didn't think of absolutely everything that could have gone wrong before it ever happened. That's what I do. I don't see the positive in anything. So nothing ever starts,” Lan says.
  
“It's a type of architecture, really, but I've always liked the term 'deconstructivism' as my way of thinking.”
  
He breathes in and shakes his head over at her. “And that's not healthy either. I know. Like I said before.. bad habits,” he offers, as if that was that.

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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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