Rory was in her
room, taping up cardboard boxes filled with her things. She wasn’t
sure what she was going to do with all her books. There were so
many, and she kept in mind—if things went how she imagined
them—this wouldn’t be the only move in her future. She
considered taking a small collection of her favorites, and then
starting anew. She put her hands on her hips and looked around the
room, frowning in concentration. There were boxes stacked up against
her dresser. Her books were organized by author’s last name, with
a list taped on top with the inventory of the box’s contents. She
could give any small town library a run for its money.
She located an empty box and picked it up when her mother walked in and took a seat on the bed.
“Have you decided what you’re going to do with my room?” Rory asked.
“Oh, I have some ideas,” Lorelai said assuredly. “I’ve been dreaming about the day I could finally have it to myself.”
“Sure,” Rory said, writing titles on a sheet of paper as she put the last of her books in the box.
“I’ll turn it into a guest room and run a small bed and breakfast out of the house.”
“Because owning and managing an inn isn’t enough.”
“That’s my career, this will just be a hobby, a kind of off-shot of the inn. Luke will serve the food and I’ll prepare mingling activities.”
“So it’ll be a hobby for both of you.”
“Yes.” Lorelai looked around the room and went on, “I’ll have to redecorate of course. I’m thinking of having a different theme every month.”
“That’ll keep you busy.”
Rory wrote one last title on her inventory list and put the book in the box before taping it shut. “It sounds like you have it all figured out.” She sat the box on top of the others and exhaled heavily. “Okay, that’s it.” She surveyed the room. After thirty years, her life consisted of clothing and books. She pointed to a smaller stack of boxes, separated from the others. “That’s the stuff I’ll need to have shipped to me. I can do without the rest, at least, at first.”
Lorelai glanced in the direction her daughter pointed and saluted. “Will do.” Then she asked, “Have you talked to your dad?”
“Yeah,” Rory answered, sitting on the bed. “I had to repeat everything I said about four times.”
“Is he getting hard of hearing in his old age?”
“No. It was all the information he had to process.” She’d rendered her father speechless no less than three times, between telling him where she was going and why. She had patiently explained, knowing how unbelievable it sounded.
“I guess he was kind of blindsided.”
“Probably,” Rory agreed. She almost felt guilty about it, but she reasoned she would have told her father when there was something to tell, had Tristan stayed. “But he’s going to meet us at the airport later. He wants to see me off.”
“That’s good,” Lorelai said.
“Yeah, I’m glad he could make it.”
“It’s kind of nice,” her mother commented. “He got to be there at the beginning this time. He usually only meets guys after you’ve been with them for a while.”
“That’s true,” Rory said. A few seconds ticked by silently. “So, are you okay . . . with all this?”
Lorelai smiled wistfully. “Yeah, I’m good if you’re good. Are you?”
Rory nodded, and then said, “Yeah. I’m good.” This was the first time in the past month she meant it when she said it. Which wasn’t to say she wasn’t nervous. No one had asked her to go anywhere, much less move, so she wanted to be well received. She’d been excitedly anxious for the past three days. When she didn’t sleep this time, it was because she was up making lists and thinking of what she was going to say when she got there. She still wasn’t completely sure, but she had a long flight to come up with something.
“And it’s perfect,” Lorelai continued. “You’ll be exactly thirteen hours away.”
“How is that perfect?”
“You’ll be getting ready in the morning when I’m getting ready for bed, and vice versa. It lines up just right for us to talk then.”
“Yes,” Lorelai insisted. “It’ll make excellent bookends for the day.”
Rory smiled a little. “Okay.”
Lorelai smiled back and hugged Rory. She swallowed hard and blinked quickly. “So. What are you going to do when you get to Japan? Call Tristan up and say ‘ta-da’?”
“No, it’s more of an in-person kind of surprise,” Rory answered. Though she had acquired his new phone numbers, she had not been the one to call him. “I took care of that the other day. He’s supposed to be waiting at the airport at a quarter to seven.”
Her father hadn’t been the only one caught off guard with her big news. Luckily, it was met with happy surprise. She had to make sure Tristan’s mother didn’t accidently tell him the truth.
Rory checked her watch and picked up the bag she was going to take on the plane. Her suitcase was sitting next to the door. “Are you ready to go?” she asked her mother.
Lorelai pulled Rory’s wrist over so she could see what time it was. “You have some time. I said I was okay with you leaving, but do you have to be so eager about it?”
“I should have clarified. Are you ready to go to Luke’s for some coffee before we pick up Grandma?”
“Oh,” Lorelai said, smiling. “Then yes, we should head out. I always have time for coffee with you.”
They both stood up and walked toward the door. Rory looked back one more time, glancing around the room. Feeling as though she was doing the right thing, she stood up a little straighter and switched off the light, pulling her suitcase into the kitchen. She closed the door, ready to start the next chapter of her life.
At Narita International Airport, Tristan was people watching Tuesday evening, again. But this time, he didn’t wonder if they were coming or going. He didn’t care. He was having one of those days where he wished he’d been sent straight to Japan instead of getting time to go to Hartford. It’d be better if he didn’t know what could have happened. Ignorance is bliss, he thought.
As much as he identified Harford as his home, he’d been away for so long, he wasn’t homesick for it. He was good at adapting to new places at this point, and Japan really wasn’t bad. He hadn’t explored the country yet, but he planned to do so when he got the chance. He wanted to go mountain biking and kayaking in Ski Niseko. And he wanted to take a hike in the Northern Alps.
Tristan hadn’t yearned to be back in corporate boardrooms since being back in the JAG offices on a base. He’d comfortably fallen back into the rhythm of things. So it wasn’t as if he didn’t like where he was or what he was doing, there was just the one thing missing, that one thing he would never have.
His mother would be here soon, so he’d have to fight the urge to ask what Rory had talked about when Cecilia saw her at the inn. He didn’t want to know, he told himself. He was better off not knowing, or caring. She was fine, she’d gone back to her life. His mother already said so. It wasn’t like he expected her to walk around like a zombie. It’d been a month, after all. So it was fine if she was good. It was great.
He gave his head a shake. He should stop thinking about that.
He glanced at his watch and noted his mother’s plane should have landed five minutes ago. He looked up at the glowing flight information and saw the plane was on schedule. It was probably slowly making its way down the tarmac and would soon be letting passengers off. She presumably rode First Class, so she shouldn’t take long to get off the plane.
He waited fifteen minutes to allow her time to get to luggage claim before he pulled his cell phone out of his pocket. He carefully dialed all the digits of the phone number. After several rings, his mother finally answered.
“Hello?” Cecilia answered, sounding disoriented and more asleep than awake.
“Mom?” Tristan asked. “Are you at baggage claim yet?”
“Baggage claim. Are you picking up your luggage?”
“My luggage? What are you—oh.” She stopped and paused for a moment.
He heard a man’s muffled voice in the background and his mother answered, “It’s Tristan.” She must have put her hand over the receiver, but he could still hear her say, “He’s waiting at the airport.”
Tristan furrowed his brows. “Was that Dad? You said you were the only one coming.”
“I know. And I am.”
“Then who on the plane would know who I am?”
“You called to say you were coming and then called again to confirm,” he said, starting to get impatient. “But now it doesn’t sound like you’re even at the airport. Are you at home in bed—in Hartford?”
Tristan didn’t know he’d been looking forward to this visit from his mother. He didn’t even mind having to take her to see Japanese theater. But now, realizing she might not be here at all, he was disappointed. He asked her, “Did you forget?” Then he wondered how that could be possible though, since she called more than once, proving otherwise.
“No, don’t be silly,” she answered. “Why would I forget something like visiting you?”
Because it was in her nature, he thought. “You’re a busy lady,” he said. “So you are here?” There were many people walking by. They had just collected their suitcases and where eager to get to their first stop in Japan—whether it was out to dinner, a hotel, or home. None of them were his mother.
“So you’re here.”
Again, Cecelia paused. “Well, the thing is. . . ”
Tristan looked up to the ceiling and sighed. “You’re not in Japan,” he deadpanned. “And I’m sitting in the airport—in my dress uniform. I guess I can go.”
said, forcefully. “Stay right where you are. Don’t
“Because you’re about to walk around the corner any second?” he asked, watching for her. His mother still didn’t appear. He stood up and started toward the exit. “Well this was fun, but I’m going to go now.”
“Don’t you dare,” she told him, sounding truly panicked. “You have to stay where you are.”
“No I don’t.”
He added, “And don’t worry about rescheduling. I know you’re
very busy with all your committees and functions. It’s okay if you
can’t fit in a trip to Japan.”
“Are you really leaving the airport?”
“Yes,” Tristan said, walking through the door.
She quickly asked, “But where are you going?”
Rather than continue to argue with him or apologize for forgetting to come, Cecilia abruptly hung up without so much as a goodbye. Tristan glanced down at his phone, perplexed. “Unbelievable,” he muttered with a shake of his head. Apparently, along with his father, his mother had also lost her mind.
He walked to the exit and out to the parking lot.
Rory was standing at the luggage claim, having just gotten off the plane. She anxiously watched the suitcases slowly move down the conveyor belt. She was tired from her thirteen hour fight, but also excited to finally be in Japan. Her heart was beating quickly at the thought of seeing Tristan in just a few minutes. She tapped her foot impatiently as she waited for her bag. She was not going to miss this aspect of traveling.
She’d imagined this moment a hundred times in the past few days. She’d find Tristan sitting in a chair, his cheek relaxing against his fist. He’d look up and see her standing in front of him. After recovering from speechlessness, he’d ask what she was doing there.
“Moving to Japan to be with you,” she would tell him. She smiled at the thought.
“Maybe he’ll carry you off to the applause of all the people watching,” Lorelai had suggested when they were at the airport in Hartford.
Many of Rory’s fellow passengers had already picked up their luggage, leaving her and a few others to wait. When her cell phone buzzed in her pocket, she hastily reached to answer it.
“Hello?” She listened as Cecilia Dugray frantically told her Tristan knew she was not in Japan. “He’s leaving?” Rory asked. It was the story of her life. She quickly glanced at the luggage carousel and her bag finally appeared. But it was crawling toward her like she had all the time in the world.
“I think he’s heading for his car,” Cecilia said. “You have to go find him.”
Rory hung up and left her bag to circle around again. She looked down at her phone grimly. “I guess I should be glad you didn’t spoil the surprise,” she said as she hurried away. She made her way through the airport, looking all around as she went. She didn’t see Tristan anywhere. She found an exit and pushed the door open, meeting the evening twilight. She gawked at all the people going to their cars.
Her heart jumped
into her throat when she spotted a tall blond figure walking away.
She sped up and ran past a row of parked cars. As she got closer,
she yelled out, “Tristan! Wait!”
Hearing his name—or the sound of her voice—he lifted his head and stopped. Rory continued to run until she reached him. When he turned around, she gasped at the sight of him in his double breasted uniform. She tried to stop, but ran into him. Though he was frowning in confusion, he quickly grabbed her upper arms to steady her.
Before thinking of anything, she lifted herself to her toes to kiss him. It was a second before Tristan responded, and when he did he parted his lips so his tongue could slide next to hers. His hands clenched her arms tighter and dragged her closer to him.
He took his time before he broke away, though he didn’t let her loose. Staring at her in wonder, he said, “You’re not my mom.”
She shook her head and smiled. “No. She lied. I had to lure you off the base to surprise you,” Rory explained. “For someone who doesn’t care about gated communities, you kind of live in the mother of gated communities.”
“I’m a huge hypocrite,” Tristan said. He was still staring at her intently, barely blinking. “I thought you knew.”
“It’s a good thing Japan has dance, or you probably wouldn’t have believed your mom would visit.”
“I still had trouble believing it,” he said.
Rory pursed her lips grimly and knit her brows. “Do you ever get the impression she just wants someone to pal around with?”
Tristan pointedly tapped his nose a few times.
She eased away as much as he’d let her, and she presses her hands on his chest. She could feel his heart beating quickly. She took a look at his navy suit coat and tie. There were gold stripes on his sleeves. “Do you wear this all the time?”
He shook his head. “I was in court today.”
“Oh, well, I like it,” she said with a grin. “You look very official.”
He tried to take a step away and seriously said, “Rory.”
“Tristan,” she said, not liking that he was trying to put distance between them, but understanding his confusion.
“You’re in Japan.”
“I know. I came here on purpose.”
“You’re supposed to be hating me in Connecticut.”
“I was, and it was working pretty well for a while.” Her hands were getting tingly. “But now it isn’t. And I can go wherever I want whenever I want, remember?”
“Right,” he said, warily.
“So I chose Japan.” Out of anxiety at finally being here in front of him, she faltered and started to ramble, “Did you know Kyoto has thousands of temples and shrines?”
“I’ve heard something about them,” he said slowly.
“And there are a lot of gardens too—I’m sure they’re beautiful, I really want to check them out. And I want to go to Dogo for a soak in the hot springs—even if I have to be naked in front of strangers.”
“Bold,” Tristan commented. “So you came to Japan to sightsee?”
“No,” she said, ready to try again. “I came because it’s where you are—and I want to be where you are. So I’m moving. Here,” she said, watching his reaction.
His face was still unreadable and he slowly asked, “You want to move here?”
She nodded. “Yes. You said something about living in a small town and you get to see the world. Those are two things I love right there. So really, it’s the best of both worlds.”
“I live in the small town. You can’t live there.”
She frowned and defiantly said, “I could live there.”
He shook his head. “Not allowed.”
“The Navy is old fashioned?”
“They don’t pay living expenses for non-military personnel.”
“They do for some.”
There was a silent beat. “Those are dependents.”
“Your family can live with you.”
“You aren’t my family—as much as I’m sure you’d be into that.”
“I could be.”
He blinked. Then he narrowed his eyes. “Are you proposing?”
“No—although . . . In addition to small towns and seeing the world, I also love—uh, you.” Her checks warmed, getting a bit flustered. “I thought you might feel the same way about me.”
His eyes clouded and he averted his gaze, looking beyond her with a pained expression.
Her heart thumped uncomfortably and the blood drained from her face. She started to extract herself from him. “Oh. I was wrong.” She muttered, “So was Grandma. Good think I haven’t moved all my stuff yet.”
He looked back at her and grabbed her wrists before she could get away. “You aren’t wrong. I do . . . love you,” he said.
She felt better immediately, except Tristan still didn’t look as happy as he was supposed to.
He went on, “But that’s why you can’t move here.”
“What? Why not?”
“Because I hate your job,” he said. It burst out of him like he’d been bottling it up. “I hate it. Pretty much everything about it. The coming and going on a whim. The dangerous locations. I hate it,” he said again. “You go and I don’t know how long you’ll be gone and I worry about you.”
He interrupted her protest to continue his rant, “I can’t eat or sleep until you get back, and I just—I wish I was okay with it, but I’m not. I wasn’t okay with it in Connecticut, and I won’t be okay with it in Japan. But it’s your life’s ambition, so you have to do it.”
“Can I say some—”
“—It’s better if you do it from the other side of the world,” he said. “I don’t like it, but at least then I can’t worry if I don’t know where you are.” He exhaled heavily, looking miserable. “Sorry.” He glanced at the building behind her. “You should get a ticket to go back home. Otherwise you’ll have come a really long way for a booty call.”
Rory paused for a beat. Then she asked, “Are you finished?”
“Yes.” He shook his head a little and again said, “I’m sorry.”
“I don’t have to do it.”
“Don’t have to do what?”
“The journalism gig. I don’t have to do that.”
“Yes you do.”
“No I don’t. I don’t feel like doing it anymore. It hasn’t been giving me much satisfaction lately,” she said. “I tried getting a job, and you should hear some of the excuses I came up with to not take them. And it won’t fit in with the other things I want now.”
“The things alternative to getting a cat when I’m forty. You know, a life.” Then she hesitantly added, “With you.”
“But what are you going to do?” Tristan asked, his eyebrows moving closer together.
She stood up straighter and smiled a little. “Teach English.”
“English,” she repeated with a nod. “I’m going to talk about books all day and tell high school kids to go to college and write them recommendation letters.” She smiled wider. “Did you know there are schools on military bases?”
He nodded. “Who do you think prepares the teacher contracts?”
“Oh, right. Anyway, I won’t be able to get a job there for this coming next school year, there isn’t enough time. I can do that at the next place. But, there’s the American School of Japan right here in Tokyo,” she said excitedly. “I talked with the principal and I’m going there for an interview tomorrow. I’m really nervous. I hope I get it.”
“I—hope so too,” Tristan said, still processing all of this information. “You’d be really good at it—all of it.”
“I appreciate the vote of confidence. But I’m not exactly qualified,” she went on. “That’s no problem though. I can get certified in a year.”
“You’re going to be a teacher,” he stated.
“You want to teach in Japan.”
“By George, I think he’s got it,” she said. She quickly added, “And it’s okay if I don’t get the job—it is my first try. It would be good character building.”
“Next place?” Tristan asked, like he was in a daze.
“You said next place. I want to go back to that part. What did you mean?”
Perplexed, Rory answered, “You know you won’t be stationed in Japan forever. So there will be a next place.” Slowly, she added, “I’m going to go with you. Wherever that may be.”
Tristan opened his mouth, but closed it, unable to come up with something to say. He stared at her for a moment. “This is really big—you don’t do this kind of thing. You follow your dreams, not a guy.”
“You’d be surprised how the two have converged,” Rory said. “But hopefully those will stop, now that I’m moving.”
“You’re serious about this,” Tristan said, brow arching slightly. “You’re moving here.”
“And you know how crazy it sounds.”
“I do. But some people think it’s crazier to stay in Connecticut . . . waiting for the day you come back.”
She seemed to have surprised him again. Unnecessarily, he blurted out, “I quit my job there.”
Solemnly, she said, “I heard about that—last week. That’s why I had to move.” Remembering the other half of that business, she quickly said, “Don’t sell your house. Just in case. Maybe you’ll get sent to Groton or New London one day—and you might want to live there.”
“Oh, that’s true—”
She continued to ramble, “But hopefully that won’t be for a while, because there are lots of other places to live first, all over the world.”
“And you’re going along. With me.”
She smiled at him. “Yes. I’m going with you.”
Finally, Tristan slowly smiled back at her. “But what about your mom?” he asked. “Can you two survive without each other?”
“I think it’s time to try,” Rory said, grinning ruefully. “I was going to move out anyway, you know I’ve overstayed my welcome. But I wouldn’t even consider perfectly good places, just because you weren’t there.”
Tristan let her wrists go then, so he could grab her by the shoulders to pull her to him again. His lips crashed into hers and she laughed a little. His hands trailed down to her waist, keeping his grasp firm, as though to keep her from changing her mind and running away.
He pulled away just enough to say, “I can’t believe you’re doing this.”
“I know. I should get my head examined,” she said, beaming. She gasped. “But I need to go get my luggage first. It’s still circling the conveyor belt.”
“You won’t need it for the hot springs,” he said with a smirk. “I want to go there first.”
“Clothes might be appropriate for my interview tomorrow.” She took his hand as she led him back toward the airport.
Her stomach growled loudly and he glanced at her, amused. Then he stopped suddenly and made Rory stop with him. She turned to face him. “What?”
“Do you want to go out for dinner with me?” he asked.
“Yes,” she answered. “Dinner sounds good.”
On Friday of the following week, Emily walked into the living room to find her daughter already sitting on one of the couches.
“Lorelai,” Emily said, glancing at a clock on the wall. “You’re early.”
“I know. Rory called, so I thought I’d just come over.”
“She did? What did she say?” Emily asked eagerly as she went to the drink cart to mix martinis.
“She just heard back from her interview at the American school today—she got up early, it’s morning for her right now—”
“I know the time difference.”
“—and they liked her enthusiasm, so they hired her,” Lorelai said with a smile.
“Oh, that’s wonderful,” Emily said, handing Lorelai her drink and having a seat with her own. “I knew they would love her.”
“Yeah, so, I have to send her the rest of her stuff this weekend. She has it all boxed up in her room, ready to go.”
“She would have needed her things, regardless,” Emily said knowingly. “I told her she didn’t have anything to worry about where Tristan was concerned.”
“I know, but she was still a little anxious right before she left.”
Emily knew. She’d sat with Rory at the airport while they waited for Christopher to arrive. Emily had noted the way Rory kept bouncing her knee and biting her nails, glancing at the other people who were coming and going.
“Sorry,” Rory had said, trying to stay still. “I’m just—”
“Yeah. And nervous,” she’d admitted.
“About your interview?”
“A little, but . . . Tristan. It’s been a month. I hope he’ll be happy to see me.”
“He will be,” Emily had said with authority. “Anyone who wouldn’t want to be with you would have to be an idiot. At least, that’s what he told me.”
Rory had frowned a little. “He did?” She seemed to think about it for a moment, then had said, “Maybe that’s why he didn’t understand why Lo—.” Rory had stopped and her eyes darted to Emily. “I just thought he was slow.”
Emily swirled the ice in her drink and took a sip. “Those fears were unfounded,” she commented. She looked over at her daughter on the couch. “Lorelai, I want to know something. And I want you to tell the truth.”
“You can’t handle the truth,” Lorelai said quickly. “Oh, sorry. It’s a habit. What do you want to know?”
“When Rory started seeing Logan,” Emily said, “did he see other girls—at the same time?”
Lorelai looked surprised by the question. “Oh, uh, I’m not sure you can handle the truth.”
“So it’s true,” Emily stated. Tristan had known what he was talking about after all, she thought. Flatly, she said, “Idiot.”
Lorelai’s drink paused midway to her mouth, again surprised. “They kept things casual in the beginning.”
“And Rory was okay with that?”
“She said she was.” Lorelai lifted a shoulder. “She liked him.”
She couldn’t believe her granddaughter would agree to such an arrangement. “No wonder you didn’t like him.”
“I don’t know why everyone thinks I didn’t like Logan. I rooted for him all along, but no one else would give him a chance.”
Emily rolled her eyes. “Anyway, Rory e-mailed me a beautiful picture of Mount Fuji yesterday.”
“I got that too,” Lorelai said. She took a sip of her martini. Musingly, she said, “You know Mom, I think this was all your doing.”
“Everything. You were friends with Francine and Straub back in the day, so Chris and I had to have Rory—”
“Had to? I don’t think I deserve credit for that—”
“—Then Chris didn’t work at Straub’s firm, so Tristan could.”
“Now really,” Emily protested.
“And we can’t forget how you paid for Rory to go to Chilton—which is where she and Tristan met in the first place.” Lorelai went on, “You’ve been planning all this for years. I’d be furious with you if I wasn’t so impressed. You are the true puppet master around here.”
“Honestly, I don’t know where you come up with some of these things.”
“It’s a gift.”
The maid came and announced dinner then, so they stood and headed for the dining room. When they’d taken their seats, Emily approvingly said, “Cecilia was certainly excited at the DAR meeting this week. She told everyone who would listen how Rory Gilmore moved to Japan because of her son.”
“I heard,” Lorelai commented. “Some of the biddies asked me about it on their way out of the inn. Apparently they haven’t been to any good weddings in a while and have something to look forward to now. I haven’t heard anything about it.”
“Cecilia has spoken with Tristan. I’m sure she pried about his intentions,” Emily said. Then, “She probably has their china patterns picked out.”
“I can’t imagine a person being so eager about a match,” Lorelai said sardonically, picking at her salad.
Emily ignored the comment as she placed her napkin on her lap. “And at our meeting for the symphony, she asked me what I think their children will look like.”
Cecilia’s plan to take a trip to Italy—and Quinn—were forgotten for the time being. The woman certainly flitted from one thing to the next, Emily thought.
Lorelai ate a few bites of her chicken and then said, “You know what? I’ve thought about it, and I think I’m ready to join the DAR.”
Emily frowned sharply. “You are not.”
“Yes I am,” Lorelai said. “You know I’m eligible, they have to let me in.”
“You don’t want to join the DAR,” Emily said again. She added, “You wouldn’t like it.”
“I would too. With Rory gone, I need an extracurricular activity to keep me busy. And don’t forget, I was a big hit at the Chilton booster club. They loved me.” Lorelai gasped. “Oh my God, that’s it.”
“That’s why you don’t want me to join your club. All the other members are going to love me, and you’re threatened by it.”
“I am not. Don’t be silly.” Emily scowled down at her salad. “Where are the raisins? I specifically said there were to be raisins in tonight’s salad.”
“Don’t try to change the subject,” Lorelai said. “The other DAR ladies are going like me so much, they’ll make me their queen.”
“We don’t have queens,” Emily said impatiently.
“President then. But I won’t forget you when I’m at the top. I’m going to need a second.”
“So this is life without a buffer.”
Her daughter gave one of her evil grins. “That reminds me, with Rory gone, I have an extra ticket to a U2 concert,” she explained. “You should come.”
“To a rock concert? I couldn’t possibly. Take Sookie, or Luke.”
Lorelai shook her head. “I sat the tickets aside specifically for mother-daughter bonding. You’re the only one who fits the bill now. Come on Mom, what do you say?”