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  “I'm.. thinking of quitting. Trying quitting.” Lan says.
  
Saya was busy on her phone, sharing Lan's picture with anyone and everyone she could. She only puts it away when he starts talking as they walk along the shrine's walkway.
  
“Quitting?” she asks, shaking her head, “Sorry, quitting what?”
  
“Drinking.” His fingers run along the waist high rail, brow creased as he thinks it through. “I've done it before, I know what to expect.”
  
“Really? How many times have you.. tried?”
  
Lan starts with his thumb and counts it out, stopping with his middle finger. “Three. Three times. All this year.” He stops and sits back on the railing, watching the crowd wander by in front of them.
  
Saya does the same, looking over at him. “By choice?”
  
He shakes his head and crosses his arms over his chest. “Always through some sort of inpatient, forced situation. Two voluntarily, one involuntarily.”
  
“You mind.. telling me about them?” she asks, tentatively. He shakes his head, though he meant he didn't mind. “It's fine,” he answers.
  
He breathes in slowly, "The first one was.. December of last year. My withdrawal symptoms we so bad one day, I couldn't drink fast enough to relieve myself of them. So I was admitted to the hospital, and then a mental ward slash detox.”
  
Turning to lean against a support post, he looks down at her. “It's strangely calming. They try to teach you ways to deal with addiction, but it's a short term facility. And in my case, for both mental health and detox. Suicidal people ambling along the hall with people coming down off drugs or alcohol.”
  
“And I had no intention of trying. I was there against my will, even though I signed the form keeping me there for 72 hours of my own will. And I hated it. I worked the system, and not in a good way. I knew what they wanted to hear, I participated, and they let me go. It wasn't even.. five hours before I started drinking again. I had an argument with Reo, and that was enough.”
  
Saya winces, but nods, “I mean if you don't want it, there's not a lot anyone can do to stop a grown person..”
  
“The.. second time was in February. This was the involuntary one. And it's ironic, in a sad way. I did want to quit, I had had enough, I contacted an ex-alcoholic friend and said okay, what do I do. And that was a.. Wednesday.”
  
He rubs his mouth as he glances down, shaking his head. “And the Sunday after that, I lost.. someone dear to me. Not physically, they had decided to drop me like all my other friends, and that was the last straw. Even though I was sober, I texted Reo.. and.. said how easy it would be to..” he pauses, looking at her as if trying to find the right words, finally deciding on:
  
“Remove myself from this Earthly plane, so to speak.”
  
Saya just nods, considering the conversation they had just hours ago, it didn't surprise her. “And I'm guessing your family got the law involved.”
  
Lan nods, smiling, but there was no humor in his eyes. “Interesting when two officers show up to your apartment and take you to the hospital in handcuffs because of the reasonable suspicion of self-harm. That time was for seven days. And I don't know if you know anything about hospital rehab, but there isn't a whole lot to do, and you go a little stir crazy.”
  
“Anyway, come on, let's head back towards the ferry. When we get back downtown it should be time for dinner.”

--

  Lan tosses the empty water bottle into a recycling bin as they start making their way back down the sidewalk they originally came from.
  
“And.. I decided this time to work the system. Not say what they wanted, but be honest, with staff, nurses, doctors.. and they gave me a shot when I was there, it basically made me impervious to getting drunk.”
  
Saya raises a brow, then the memory comes to her. “The one that makes you ill if you..”
  
“No, no no, I haven't.. and don't want to try that one. This one.. blocks the receptors up here?” Lan taps his temple, “So I can drink, in fact I tested it two days after I was out – got a beer, and you can taste the alcohol, but you'll never get drunk. You can die of alcohol poisoning, but you'll still be sober as it happens.”
  
“So I thought.. well, why should I even try? Nothing I could do would get the medication out of me faster, and I did well, I did really, really well on it, knowing it wasn't worth me trying. Like an ace-in-the-hole in my own head, I could buy the alcohol, I even carried cash around. But once I saw it I remembered the shot and got something else.”
  
Saya was thankful that some clouds were moving overhead, and the cool air from the bay was returning as they made their way back to the dock. “So what changed? Why.. how did you start again?”
  
“Willpower. And cost. But mainly willpower. The shot is.. about.. a hundred and sixty thousand yen. A month.”
  
Saya balks at him, her jaw dropping, shaking her head. “That's.. insane. That's rare cancer treatment levels of cost. What the hell makes it so expensive?”
  
“It's.. a premium. Even for the NHI. Even for my family, as we are.” He hopes she got the idea of the wealth aspect, and she nods. “So.. the company has this 30 day shot, but costs that much. Or, you could take a pill every day for.. about 5,500 yen for a thirty day supply.”
  
The two of them step up to the ferry's waiting area, Lan bending at the waist and resting his forearms on the railing, looking out over the water. “Between 160k and 5k, which do you think the NHI is going to opt to cover?”
  
“The latter, I'm assuming,” Saya replies, standing next to him.
  
The wind was blowing his hair back again, as he squints into it, “And if you have control over your sobriety and have a bad day, how long are you going to willingly keep taking that pill version?”
  
“Seven days,” he says before she can answer, and turns towards her, smiling wistfully. “When you stop taking the pill, you can get drunk again within seven days.” He looks down at the water splashing against the dock, “And when you don't care about yourself or anyone, who is really making you take the medication?”

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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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