“You in the mood for anything? There's probably nothing special about food here than in Ota,” he says as they walk down the sidewalk, looking at the shops and restaurants.
“Mm-mm, last night's dinner was wonderful, so I'm good with.. ramen, a burger, a family restaurant.”
Lan chuckles and shakes his head. “It would have been more.. fantastical had Aiko had her way. We'd probably still be eating now.”
They had caught a train back to the middle of downtown, a ways from Saya's hotel, but it seemed like the best place to find a good selection for lunch.
“Alright, then.. a Gusto? Is that okay?tor” He points ahead of them at a chain restaurant up the block. “Ever eaten there?”
She fixes him with an are-you-serious look, then smiles. “It's fine. It's actually one of the first places my translator took me to when I came to Japan.”
Lan did finally recognize that they were holding hands more as they explored the town – whether it was anything but her comforting him in a difficult place, he didn't ask. He pulls the door open to the restaurant, as she steps in, following behind her.


  After being seated, he excuses himself to the restroom. Washing his hands, he pulls the flier for Miroku no Sato, Hiroshima's sleepy little amusement park. After the seriousness of last night, and the morose and boring to her, he thinks of the transportation museum, a little levity wouldn't be terrible.
He fishes in his other pocket and pulls a simple hair tie out, matching the black of his hair as he pulls it back into a loose, small ponytail. In most casual settings, he did this, but knew his hair length was a point of contention with his family. All of them preferred it short.
It's more laziness than anything, he thinks, stepping out and back to the booth, sitting across from Saya, who was perusing the menu. He knew it enough to know what he was going to order.
Saya looks over at him from behind the menu, glancing down and doing a double take as Lan's hair was pulled back. She knew why, of course, her own hair stayed in place most of the time, but straight hair like he has might make it unruly.
Using the menu as a bit of cover, she finally got a good while to study his face across from hers. Thinking back to the pictures in his apartment, and even in his room last night, she could see the similarities, but somewhere between then and now he had lost all trace of baby fat, holding back a smile at his cute baby picture.
Were it not for the naturally straight hair and his fair complexion, no one would question Lan as being foreign. Long eyelashes, blue eyes, and a sharp jawline, all of which he must have inherited from his mother.
But outside of the ride and museum from earlier, Lan's eyes lacked the.. sparkle of what she saw in her kids when she taught them. Excitement, enjoyment. He has.. go on, say it, she thinks, frowning at her first admission to herself, resting bitch face. Her body jumps as a slight laugh does escape her, though he doesn't notice. To be fair, she knew plenty of people that had that 'syndrome'.
But it disappears in a flash as he turns to look up at the waitress who set down to glasses of ice water – and he flashes a polite, genuine smile, then asked them if they were ready to order. Saya quickly looks down for something to order, deciding on a simple chicken set, placing the menu down – opened for her to point to, considering that's how she ordered at most places in her time in the country.
Lan defers to her, as she reaches over and taps on his menu her selection. “Grilled or fried?” he asks in English, she didn't even consider there were options, the picture showing fried chicken. “Oh! Uh.. grilled, please.”
He nods and recites her order to the waitress in Japanese, continuing with his own order. The waitress collects their menus and gives a polite bow before walking back to the front desk, leaving them alone.


  After lunch, they sat together as the sun crosses over its peak – neither were looking to go outside in the dead of August around midday. Even in the air conditioning, their drinking glasses almost immediately started to condensate.
“I know you said you didn't get that guide, but you had a few ideas?” he asks, lacing his hands around the glass in front of him.
“Well, just one. And I..” she glances at her watch, brow furrowing as she thinks. “I think I timed it right.”
“Timed?” Lan leans back, looking out the window – it was the weekend, so everything should be open at this time.
“Low tide,” she grins, looking proud of herself. “Looked it up last night, and low tide is an hour or so away from now, the best way to get close up to the torii gate.”
“Oh!” It clicks for him, nodding. “Itsukushima. I hadn't even thought of the tides. It's pretty either way, but yeah. It may be a little popular around this time, but we should be able to walk right up to it. And..” he points, returning her smile. “I actually know about that place too. So I can be a good tour guide.”
“Well, consider me lucky that you don't charge a fee.” To which she almost immediately pats her hand down on the tab the waitress left. “For the tour, or lunch.”
“I'm assuming you're going to be just as stubborn as I am in terms of lunch, so let's meet halfway on this,” she suggests.
Lan didn't frown, but he was intending to pick up the cost for lunch, considering he had the cash to do so today. Instead, he hooks a thumb under her palm covering the paper – and while she playfully tries to hold it down, laughing, he catches enough of it to see the total. The damage wasn't terrible, Gusto was neither bargain-basement nor upscale, coming to around ten dollars for each.
Sighing melodramatically and withdraws his hand from hers as she pulls the tab towards her. “Fine,” he relents.
Saya grabs her purse and scoots out of the booth, Lan following. “Though it is a bit of a trek from here. You okay with ferries?”
She nods, motion, air, seasickness never got to her but she does stop, remembering the plane trip down here, raising a brow at him. “Are you?
Lan holds up his hands, his wallet in one of them as she stops them in the middle of the restaurant. “Actually, yes. But I can swim. I just can't.. fly. Should anything happen to a plane.”
The image of a skydiving Lan briefly crosses Saya's mind, who smiles and shakes her head. “What?” he asks, but she just turns and heads towards the front counter.


  Lan wasn't kidding, the train skirts around Hiroshima Bay from downtown, exiting out of the majority of the city to the south. The view of the water was lovely, but there's only so much of that you can enjoy when you're still cooped up on a train.
As it left the major downtown areas, there were enough seats for Lan to feel comfortable enough to sit next to Saya without anyone else having to stand.
Saya was poking around on her phone idly, from news, to weather, to Facebook again, reading the comments on her museum pictures – Lan turning away from looking over her shoulder at that part. Facebook may be public to friends, but it was still personal information.
Lan himself didn't use it much, nor did his family, and all his friends matured without him with their own spouses and kids. It wasn't depressing to him, but unless you were in a relationship or had kids, Facebook didn't get much use, he had concluded.
“Ah, I was right,” she pipes up, turning the phone towards him. “It was kinda morbid to post the Peace Museum pictures.”
Lan leans down and covers the phone from the sun with his hands, reading some of the comments. It had plenty of likes and emoticons, but a few of her friends had chimed in the comments.
'That's so sad!'
'What a powerful image – literally and figuratively.' That one made Lan smile slightly. Her friends had the same kind of humor they both shared.
The last comment, 'Hope you're doing well in Hiroshima!' came from what looks like a joint account from an older man and woman, Mary and Robert Travis. Her parents?
“So they were okay with you.. coming here?” he asks, pointing down at their comment.
Saya thumbs the power button on her phone and slips it back into her purse. “Well.. no.” She saw no reason to dance around the truth.
“If I'm being as honest with you as I was with them, they.. did not want me to come,” she continues. “I mean, your daughter is halfway around the world, and is going on vacation with her strange, alcoholic neighbor, expenses paid.”
She turns to look at him, but has to squint and hold her hand over her eyes in the sun. “What would you think?” she asks.
Lan leans his head back and rubs his eyes with his fingers. “I think I have made the worst fucking first impression to a set of parents in history.” He turns back down to her, “That's what you told them?”
“I.. yeah? I forget that not every family shares everything all the time. We do. It was just habit,” she shrugs, “I didn't mean anything by it, in reference to you, just the truth.”
Though when he sighs, for real this time, she starts to feel a little bad for it. “Look, they've dealt with alcoholics in their time, and they trust me. They know I'm not stupid.”
Finally, when Lan hears their stop, Miyagimaguchi, he looks out across the aisle at the station slowly crawling into view. “Y.. yes? But, you told them more than just that, right? C'mon, this is our stop.” He reaches up and grabs a standing pole, holding a hand out to her as the train finally stops, the door opening.
But Saya doesn't move, nor does she look at Lan for a moment, enough that Lan was starting to think the doors would close on them and they'd miss their exit.
When she finally does stand, she skirts around him and onto the platform, leaving him to wander out behind her as the doors close.
“You.. told them more than just that, didn't you?"


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About the author


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.

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