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  Small courses came after one another: salmon roe, octopus, much like the food, the conversation was sparse as well. The two groups – Saya and Lan, and the rest of the Satake family, didn't have much in terms of common ground.
  
Taking a sip of her tea, Saya studies Lan for a moment before realizing the time and that he's not shaking. She squints up at him from behind her cup before setting it down, tapping him on the forearm.
  
Lan turns to her, tilting his head. “Hm?”
  
“How many have you had? Xanax, I mean,” she leans forward, talking in whispers.
  
He sets his chopsticks down, having been holding them as a sort of fidget device, leaning back in his chair. “Today, or just tonight?”
  
“I.. today, I guess?” she asks, Saya knew it was going to be a thing tonight, but not earlier.
  
“T..three and a half?” He answers a question with a question, not really sure of the count himself. The number didn't surprise her, but the way he was acting did.
  
She had seen him on a larger dose before the plane, but however he was acting tonight seemed like a normal, well-adjusted man. No physical symptoms, no emotional problems. It didn't make sense.
  
The next course arrived, a simple block of tofu, adorned with spices in a thin broth. To be completely honest, she wasn't enjoying the food part of this at all. Lan had mentioned as much, and her idea of what made a Michelin worthy restaurant wasn't so great of an aspiration to her anymore.
  
Still, all of them dug in, one bite's worth of food, and even though she wasn't a fan of tofu herself, the accents made it much better. More complex than the bare taste of tofu.
  
The waitress again clears the area in front of them, as she tugs on Lan's cuff again. He tilts his body at the waist instead of looking at her. “How are you not stoned? Like the plane.”
  
That made him turn, smiling slightly and, instead of replying immediately, he reaches up and slides his finger horizontally across his forehead, turning it towards her. It was slick with sweat, as was his forehead when she really looked at it. He did a good job of hiding it.
  
“The plane was before withdrawals.” He wipes his hands on his napkin, speaking in hushed English. “This is that and anxiety. No drinking, and sitting next to my family. Not the place I'd choose to be at this time of night.” He glances at his watch, poking it to come to life as the screen shows him 7:38pm.
  
Saya knew if this were a regular day, he'd be well into drinking by now. To not must be twisting him into a pretzel inside. But she just nods, and he tilts back up, his forearms resting on his chair, fingers tapping a little fast against the frame for someone so relaxed.

--

  Another course came, covered and warm to the touch, the chef nods towards them and they uncover what seems to be a nugget of what could be either sea urchin, or scrambled egg surrounded in a thick brown syrup.
  
Saya glances over at the chef with an eyebrow raised, thankful he wasn't looking her way as she looks back down at it. “I have to say,” she speaks down at the bowl, but more for Lan, who was looking at it himself. “I can't say much for my first experience in a high-class restaurant.”
  
Lan barks out a harsh, loud “Ha!” which silences the restaurant, from the chef himself to the attendants, and of course, his family. He curls his lips inward and bites them, sitting back as if nothing happened.
  
He straightens up and is now strangely interested in the dish before him, even if everyone in the building was staring at him. Eventually, things relax, business as usual.
  
“To be honest, I'm not really sure myself,” he speaks to the dish, but more for Saya's benefit. It was only until Reo speaks up that things were clarified.
  
“It's a nori-wrapped portion of uni that lays in a small bit of maple syrup, from what I can tell,” he explains to the both of them, in English for their benefit.
  
“Though this place doesn't have much in the way of menus, so I can't be totally sure.” Reo didn't seem pleased at the unknown himself as he looks at the dish.
  
Lan was first to pick it up, then his seatmates as all three scoop the questionable item up. Lan looks over at his father and Aiko, who seemed perfectly pleased to have finished it off a while ago.
  
It didn't help that the chef was staring at all three of them as they all three put it in their mouths at the same time, realizing it's not egg with syrup, but urchin. And as sweet as sea urchin was, it was still a product of the sea.
  
Reo was neutral, he neither liked nor disliked it. No reaction.
  Saya's eyes shut but god dammit, you're going to eat it, she tells herself, chewing, and then getting it down.
  
Lan, however, kept his lips relaxed, setting the plate down in front of him. He turns to Reo, with a questioning look on his face, then to Saya, with the same. He doesn't speak, instead asking questions in hmm?
  
“Hmm? Mmhm? Mhm, mhm.” Good? Okay? Excuse me for a moment, he was thinking. Whether it came across, he didn't care. Lan pushes away from the bar and glances around until he sees the restroom, quietly excusing himself to it.
  
Emerging after a moment, he straightens the cuffs of his shirt, walking back over to the group and taking his seat. “Well that was.. tremendously disgusting. Can we never come here again?” he asks.

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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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