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  One of the maids, Saya had already forgotten her name among most of the staff, slides open the door a bit, bowing a bit to Saya, then to Toshio. She speaks in Japanese to her employer, who nods his head and turns to his guest.
  
“It seems all is ready.” He slides back and starts to stand, waiting until she follows suit, smoothing out her black skirt and stepping around the table to join him. Toshio does frown a bit as he looks out into the courtyard, then to her. “Hm.. I'll send someone to find Lan.” He smiles down at her and pulls the door open in front of them. “If you do not mind escorting an old man, for now.”
  
Saya chuckles. “Of course. Thank you, as well.” She steps forward out into the hall and points to the left questioningly. “This way?” she asks, Toshio nodding. “On the right,” he answers.
  
She knew, but was being polite anyway as she walks in front of him to the open double doors of the dining room where a member of the staff stands. He rattles off something to her and is relieved when Toshio speaks up instead.
  
“With everyone here, he says they put you and Lan together.” She looks in and sees two settings one seat apart on the long table, one across from them, and two at either end.
  
“Ah, I see. Thank you again.” She starts to walk around the end of the table, around to one of settings just as Toshio speaks to the man at the doorway, who nods and steps away towards the bedroom wing.
  
Lan's father goes and stands at one of the ends of the table just as Reo enters, doing the same at the one across from Saya. Neither sit. “Three course fare, normal dinner anywhere else,” Reo assures her, “which is why it's ready so fast. Though truth be told she was a bit disappointed not to be able to do more.”
  
He smiles over at her when she looks a bit upset, shaking his head. “I told her it was Lan's request. Not yours. Please,” he holds out his hand towards her seat. She pulls back the chair and slides her hands behind her skirt and sitting. “Thank you,” she says.
  
Saya didn't have to ask why they were still standing – manners do run in the family. Behind Reo, Aiko steps in, scanning the room and is apparently not surprised to see no Lan. She steps over across the table from Toshio and doesn't hesitate, pulling the chair out and sitting down as Saya did. Only then did both Reo and his father start to sit down themselves.

--

  Brushing past the staff sent to retrieve him at his own bedroom, Lan walks with a bit of a hurried pace around the courtyard – properly this time – and around to the entrance of the dining room.
  
Stopping just before he was in view, he takes a long, deep breath and rocks his head side to side, stretching a bit. The alcohol was already making him feel sluggish, all he needed to do was get through dinner (which would help) and get Saya into a cab, and that would be that.
  
Thankfully, Toshio and Reo were just sitting down as Lan starts to walk around behind his father to join Saya. Toshio turns his head and speaks under his breath, “Don't leave guests alone, you know better than that,” his father chides. As he pulls out his own seat, he nods in acknowledgment and turns to Saya.
  
“Sorry. I..” she already knew he was going to drink, “sorry I left you alone.”
  
She nods and picks up her napkin from under the utensils, laying it across her lap. Lan does the same as the first of the staff file in – each holding a tray with tonight's dinner.
  
True to Reo's word, what Saya was served was indeed appropriately normal. Rice, soup, salad, and a grilled fish entree. Typical, everyday dinner. Lan leans forward a bit and utters a casual 'thanks' to Reo, who just nods his head in return, the dishes being placed in front of each of them. The attendants file out as all of them look to Aiko.
  
She places her hands together and nods solemnly as all of follow suit, giving thanks for the meal before the clink of dishes start echoing around the room.
  
Hopefully, Lan thinks, Aiko doesn't bring that shit up from before, but it's his father that talks first, looking at his wife across the table. “Oh, did you have time to talk to Saya before?” He speaks in English, for her benefit, Saya assumes.
  
“Mm? Oh, yes, we did,” she looks over at their guest, nodding. “But not for long, Lan wanted to give her a tour.”
  
“Ahh, I see. This house has been in our name for quite a while, you see,” Toshio says to Saya, “it has been..” he pauses and looks to Reo in Japanese, who replies in English: “modernized.”
  
“Yes! Modernized for today. But the architecture is very old. Glad to have electric heating and cooling!” he exclaims, which makes Saya smile.
  
“It is a very, very beautiful home. Thank you for having me, and.. all this.” She motions towards the dishes in front of her, looking from Aiko around the table in thanks.
  
Aiko waves a hand, blotting her lips with a napkin before speaking. “This is simple, I wanted to do more, but you have been traveling today, I thought faster would be better. If we have the pleasure again, putting together fantastic menus has always been a fun hobby of mine.”
  
Saya smiles to her and raises her teacup towards Aiko before taking a sip.
  
“So, Lan, how much have you had to drink today?” She asks bluntly, causing Saya to inhale some of the tea, setting it down and bringing her napkin up and turning to the side to mask her coughing fit.

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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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