They spend most of the ferry ride in silence, though near the end, Saya hops up to take a few more pictures of the tide creeping back in towards the torii, though it would be hours before it was 'floating' in the bay again.
As the boat was docking, Lan's phone buzzes twice, and glancing at his watch, he immediately fishes it out of his pocket, reading the rest of the abbreviated text.
“You have got to be kidding me,” he says to his phone, while typing it out as well, hammering the send button. Saya looks over at him, confused.
“What was that about?” she asks, and when Lan leans a shoulder on the metal wall of the ferry, he sighs, looking out over where they were disembarking.
“It's..” he grits his teeth and curses under his breath as he presents Saya with a neutral face so not to betray his anger. “Interference,” is all he replies with.
“What now? What was that message?” She points down to his phone, to which he hands it over to her, unlocked and uncaring, but all she's left with is staring down at a thread of complicated kanji characters and numbers that she could read. A time?
“Lan, I don't read..” Saya starts to hold the phone back to him when he stands back up, placing his hand under hers and lifting the screen up, standing behind her. He thumbs his way to the latest messages. One incoming.
He reads aloud for her, pointing along the characters in the text. “Be at Nakashima at 6, clothes delivered to Sheraton, Aiko judged, let me know if..” he pauses, then continues, “..something doesn't fit. Basically.”
Continuing on, he reads out the blue response on the right side – Lan's response. “Are you fu.. effing kidding me? And that's it.” The end of the text thread.
Lan pulls his phone from Saya's hand and puts it back in his pocket, resuming his place with his back against the wall, not even reacting when the ferry's horn sounds loudly above them. Saya watches him slump, only thinking that he looks utterly resigned to.. whatever the texts meant.
“So the hotel I'm at, clothes? What is Nakashima?” she asks, and he looks over at her, the exuberance of visiting the shrine sucked out of him. Lan looks past her and pushes off the wall, waiting until the majority of passengers were heading down to the exit before they start moving themselves.
“I'll..” No, he thinks, it's an hour and a half trip, you can't tell her later. “Another.. family dinner,” he says back over his shoulder as they step down towards the passenger exit. “Definitely not my idea.”


  Though her mind was doing circles as to what all of that meant, Lan unfortunately slept through the train ride, his face pressed against the corner railing, away from Saya, as they rode. She did manage to get a picture of him, giggling, then stifling it once she started getting disapproving glances from the public around her. Etiquette, etiquette, etiquette, she repeats to herself. Always a reminder.
It's only when she hears the words Hiroshima Station does she start to nudge him awake, first a gentle shake on his shoulder, then a jab of her thumb into his side, which causes him to burst out laughing and bash the back of his head against the window behind them.
Saya recoils and covers her mouth as Lan's face drops from joy to pain, covering his side with one hand, and rubbing the back of his head with the other. He swears in Japanese, but Saya knew those words well enough to get the idea.
“I'm sorry, I'm sorry!” She hovers her hands near his shoulder, as he looks over at her. “I didn't know you were.. that ticklish. I just wanted to wake you up.”
“Only when I don't.. see it coming. Ow..” He ruffles the spot that hit the window, wincing a bit. “It's fine, thick skull. Where are we, what time is it?”
The train squeals to a slow halt as Saya stands up, holding a hand out to her wounded companion. Lan takes it and stands up, the dangling hand-holds thumping him in the face before he ducks around it, adding insult to injury.
“Fuckin'..” Lan trails off, but grabs the pole near the exit, still trying to shake his head clear as the two of them move slowly out of the train, and down to street level, blocks away from the hotel.


  “So can I ask questions now?” Saya asks, to which Lan gives her a confused look just for a moment before his eyes roll back as he remembers the text, family plans, he nods.
“Yes, right, sorry, sorry I fell asleep. Yes, ask away,” he answers as they head northeast towards her hotel.
She squints, remembering, as the word comes to her. “What's Nakashima?”
Lan groans, remembering himself. “It's a r..” They take a right, the neighborhood starting to look familiar to Saya as she can see the hotel rising above them. “Do you know what a Michelin restaurant is?”
Saya's face drops, or more her jaw – again – as she skirts around in front of Lan, stopping him in his tracks. “I know exactly what they are, are you serious? Are you serious?” she repeats, then starts talking to herself. “I only brought the one outfit..”
Lan, meanwhile, just stands there, his hands in his pockets and the back of his head throbbing. All of this was natural for him, explosive for others. He just waits it out.
“It said outfits, Saya,” he finally speaks, which stops her mid-pace. “Apparently Aiko wants us to look all purdy,” he sneers, dropping into a Japanese Kansai dialect for a moment. “All pretty,” he corrects himself, in English.
“And that was the sizes thing, if she got any of yours wrong, for me to tell Reo and he'd fix it.” She stares up at him, then her vision turns accusatory. “No, dammit, I do not know your sizes or gave him any hints. None of this was my idea.”
Saya relaxes as they start to walk again, coming up on the lobby of the hotel. The attendants push both doors open for them as they enter.


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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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