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  Lan steps out of the cab, the driver waving him off as apparently he was already paid. It wasn't late, but it was late enough that the attendants had retired for the night, so Eiji wasn't waiting for him.
  
He squares up against the head-high fence, shaking his head as he grabs the top and yanks himself up, straddling it and dropping himself down on the other side. It wasn't his first time coming home late to a locked gate, it had just been a while.
  
The wind blows through the forest around him, sending a chill up his spine. There was nobody around Lan, but his imagination creates a looming monster stepping its way closer as he walks up the driveway, causing him to walk a little bit faster.
  
The accent lights were still on around the entrance of the house as he approaches, no fanfare this time, he thinks, as he stands in front of the sliding door, knowing the outcome, but hooking his fingers into it and pushing anyway – locked.
  
His face twists in anger as he steps back, looking at the entrance as a whole. These fucks knew I was coming home, what the fuck?
  
Breathing in slowly through his nose, he cycles through his memories, and the vulnerabilities of the house from when he lived here.
  
The addition Aiko had done cut off plenty of his ways to sneak back in, but honestly, he was too old, and too tired to try and climb his way back into his own house through a window. Instead, he slaps the base of his palm hard a few times on the door, a loud, rattling bam, bam, bam, echoing through the house.
  
What greets him is the ever-present Miho, causing him to closes his eyes and sigh. If his parents gave him an earful, Miho was their second in command. She slides the door open and steps back so Lan can come in.
  
Lan bends down and undoes his shoelaces, stepping up to the house proper, turning and placing his shoes in a cubby.
  
“She's nice,” Miho says, closing and locking the door behind them.
  
He pauses for a moment, squinting as his brain processes what she said, looking up at her from putting his shoes up. “What?”
  
“Miss Travis. She's a nice woman,” she repeats as she walks past Lan into the house as well.
  
Lan tilts his head, then shakes it clear. “Wait, wait stop. Stop.” She does, turning to look at him.
  
“You didn..” He cycles all the interactions he's had with Miho in the past, coming to a 99.9% negative conclusion. “You hate me. And everything that I do, and everyone I bring home, what is thi.. what are you doing?” He stands up, turning to her, but she was straight-faced as always.
  
The older woman's expression softens, barely, but it does. Miho shakes her head. “I don't hate you, Lan, far from it.” She steps forward to him which makes him recoil a bit, as this woman was discipline incarnate.
  
“I think she's good for you,” Miho says, “and.. she..” she considers her next words carefully for a moment.
  
“She reminds me of your mother. Of Emma. And it's not because she's white or English. You know what I mean, right?” she asks.
  
It had been in the back of his mind, certainly, but recognizing it was a different step for Lan. It took what Miho was talking about to make him realize, and the realization disgusted him.
  
“It's not like that,” he says, shaking his head, “it's not because Mom wasn't Asian.”
  
“It's not?” she asks, no malice in her voice, she seemed genuinely curious, “You've read of Oedipus, and his stor--”
  
It's not like that!” Lan yells at her, which causes her to wince back, strange to him as she's never shown any sort of vulnerability. He looks down the hall towards the main house, and when no one comes at the raised voices, he sighs and shakes his head.
  
He rubs his forehead and steps back, leaning against a wall opposite Miho, trying to reason it out. “I-- If it is, it's unconscious. She just happens to have Mom's traits.”
  
“Lan, I'm not the enem--” He holds up a hand at her sharply, his teeth clamping down in a grimace. “Don't finish that sentence, Miho. I've heard it time and time again,” he growls, and she doesn't. It was just his family's go-to to placate Lan when he was mad, but these days it only enraged him further.
  
“It's.. recognition, Lan,” she says, “do I think you wanted to kill Satake-san and marry Emma? No, don't be stupid.” There was the biting talk from Miho, mixed in with philosophy and comfort. Lan was.. confused, to say the least.
  
“Maybe this is all overstepping my bounds. If so, I apologize.” But she steps up and places her hand on Lan's cheek, who was still bewildered by this nicer, softer Miho.
  
“I've known you since you were a boy, Lan. If Emma were here, she'd punch you in the face.” Lan recoils instinctively which makes Miho smile, sighing and looking up at him.
  
“I think she's good for you. In whatever form. Friend, girlfriend, whatever.” Miho turns and walks down the entrance hall towards the rest of the house, though she stops before turning a corner.
  
“Don't fuck it up, yeah?” she calls back. Lan blinks at her, it was the first time Miho had uttered any form of curse with him around. Satisfied with the effect, she nods to him and starts off towards her room.
  
Lan eases off the wall and looks to where Miho last was, running his hand through his hair and scratching it up into a mass of twists and spikes, leaving him looking ridiculous. But no one was around to see, and maybe that's why Miho was so candid.
  
Sneaky damn woman, he thinks, wandering in and turning the opposite way she went, still bewildered, but thinking more and more of where his hidden bottles were for tonight..

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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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