“Aiko!” Toshio exclaims, intending to continue until Lan holds up a hand towards him as he checks on Saya, patting her back lightly.
“What?” she shrugs, returning to the dishes in front of her. “It's a valid question, isn't it?”
Finally catching her breath, Saya sits back up and nods to Lan in thanks, but also searches his face for a reaction to such a blatant question.
If there was one, she couldn't see it. Lan simply shakes his head, pushing his hair back before picking up the bowl of soup. “She's not wrong,” he admits, though his eyes cut a hard edge over at Aiko.
“Enough, for tonight. Reo knows, as does Miss Travis.” He does get one barb in as he says: “It's rather embarrassing to try and eat with chopsticks when your hands are trembling. Wouldn't want to embarrass anyone tonight, after all.”
Aiko doesn't deign that response, so she turns to look at Saya, “I never did ask, before, what do you do in Tokyo?”
She sets down her chopsticks and looks at the other woman, “Oh, I.. teach English to primary students in Ota. At Sunny Plumeria? It's near where I live, so it's rather convenient.”
Aiko nods, cutting the fish with the edge of her chopsticks. “A valuable skill, but you don't speak Japanese yourself?” Saya shakes her head.
“Very little. And I can only read a bit of katakana. But it's enough to get around.” She chuckles to herself, “I'm probably on the same age-level in Japanese as the children I teach, but I do have the school's translator, who assists me.”
“I think it's a good skill to have,” Toshio chimes in, looking between his wife and Saya. “Japanese may not be everywhere, but English is always valuable. At least I think so. I do send Reo out on more.. technical issue trips?” He looks over at Reo, who nods.
“I understand both fluently, especially when it comes to the inner workings of our machines and facilities. But when it comes to Chinese or Korean, I have to rely on my own assistant.”
“Emma.. made sure that Lan knew both as well, much like Reo, she was good in both,” Toshio says, “though, Lan did have trouble picking up the more.. harder parts of kanji.”
Lan wasn't looking at her, but his cheeks were rather red at that little bit of information, which made Saya smile a bit. “It would take me years, I'm sure,” she replies.
“She's also a graduate student,” Lan says, setting down his bowl of rice. “In..” He turns to her, raising a brow. “I don't think you ever told me.”
“Ah.. well it was going to be journalism. Living here has taught me that I love to travel, but now I'm not so sure.” She smiles awkwardly at Toshio, shrugging. “Maybe I should just change it to English, like my first degree.”
She digs her chopsticks into her salad, lost in thought. “I like it here, and I could teach older kids, or even adults with it.”
“Ohhh? Both good! Japan loves skilled workers, very tough visa laws, though.” He furrows his brow at that, shaking his head. “Low birth rate, and tough entry? Hmm..” he trails off, though that last comment makes Saya herself blush a bit at the brief thought.
“You should stay! You are always welcome, and Satake could use English speakers, no matter what degree.”
“Father!” Reo exclaims, shortly after Lan. Both did not want her subjected to business tonight.
Toshio holds up his hands defensively at the commotion, “What? It is true, yes? She knows the language, we have the need.” He shrugs and picks up his salad bowl. “Forgive me,” he admits to Saya, smiling, “it is hard to turn off business.. brain.”
Saya smiles and nods in return, “I understand, and thank you very much for the offer. My father is like that in a lot of ways as well.”
Reo pauses in eating as he looks over at her. “Do you mind me asking what he does?”
She shakes her head, “Mm-mm. It's alright. He's.. actually a factory manager. Well, now anyway, he worked his way up over the years.”
“Oh? What does the company make?”
Saya laughs and sets her chopsticks down, shaking her head as she looks from Aiko to Reo. “Ah.. would you believe crayons?” then to Toshio who has a confused look until it sounds it out wordlessly, dawning on him.
That gets Lan's attention as well, all of them looking at her. “He.. oversees the creation of Crayola crayons where we're from, in Pennsylvania.”
“Really? How interesting,” Reo replies, crossing his arms over his chest as he tilts his head, thinking. “On the floor or on the business side?”
“Oh, the floor, definitely. He started low, years ago, now he oversees the production, machinery, coloring. He gave me a tour ages ago, and it was surprisingly loud for what was just a wax factory.”
“Hmm?” Reo entertains the thought further, speaking out loud, “He'd probably do pretty well in our factory too..”
“Reo!” Lan was the only one that spoke up this time, more business talk – even if they couldn't help it. Reo holds up a gloved hand.
“Right, sorry. Habit.” He picks up his chopsticks and resumes eating, even though all of them were very pleased that Saya was still smiling through what anyone else would say is a rough start to a family dinner.
- a recovering disaster? / twitter: @rgdrac
apologies for everything about me, it might get better.
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